He has made a bright start to his international career, and says Rahul Dravid’s suggestion to “follow your basics and enjoy your game” has stood him in good stead
Tilak Varma has started his international career in fine fashion, clearly India’s best batter in the first two T20Is against West Indies on tricky pitches in Tarouba and Providence. India lost both games, but Tilak played his part well, with help from Rahul Dravid and Hardik Pandya.
“I have been with Rahul sir since the Under-19 World Cup. He always says to follow your basics and spend as much time in the 22 yards between the wickets. He always says to enjoy your game as much as you can,” Tilak said at a press conference on Sunday. “When I was talking to Hardik bhai also, he says the same thing, that you’ve done well in IPL and domestic, so this is the same thing you should do in international cricket. Follow your basics and enjoy your game.”
On his international and T20I debut, Tilak made an instant impact, hitting sixes off the second and third deliveries that he faced.
On Sunday, he went one better to bring up his maiden international half-century to help India post 152.
“The wicket was on the slower side and slightly double-paced, and that’s why we thought that 150 or 160 would be a good score,” Tilak said of the second game, which West Indies won by two wickets with seven balls in hand. “I think we were ten runs short, other than that I thought we played well.”
He also praised West Indies’ bowlers for making better use of the conditions than the Indians.
“They were bowling really good,” he said. “When they bowled, they were using slower ones and hard lengths really well and they used the wind conditions really well.”
For Tilak, the step up to international cricket can be linked directly to his performances in the IPL (though his List A average of 56.18 isn’t shabby either). In the IPL, playing for Mumbai Indians, he averaged 36.09 and had a strike rate of 131.02 for his 397 runs in 2022, and scored 343 runs at 42.88 and a strike rate of 164.11 in 2023.
“Everyone knows that the two IPL seasons were my turning point. I am here because of my performances there,” he acknowledged. “So I am just playing with that confidence and going forward I want to continue what I’ve been doing.
“In my first IPL season, he [Rohit Sharma, the Mumbai Indians captain] told me that I am an all-format player and that was a huge boost for me. That gave me a lot of confidence. He told me from then that I have to be consistent and for that I need to be disciplined off the field. So I take his guidance and have been following the things he has told me to do.”