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'I visualise every night how I can bat' - elated Tilak Varma on maiden India call-up

He's taken a step closer to realising his dream, a year after Rohit predicted he would be an all-format player for India "pretty soon"

Himanshu Agrawal
Tilak Varma lines up a shot to the leg side, North Zone vs South Zone, Duleep Trophy 2023-24 semi-finals, Bengaluru, 2nd day, July 6, 2023

Tilak Varma lines up a shot to the leg side in Duleep Trophy  •  PTI

In May 2022, Rohit Sharma had forecasted that Mumbai Indians' Tilak Varma would be an India player very soon. "Having such a calm head is never easy, and in my opinion, I feel he's going to be an all-format player for India pretty soon," Rohit had said. "He's got the technique, and he's got the temperament, which is the most important thing when you play at the highest level."
Just over a year later, Varma has moved a step closer to the India cap. The 20-year-old was named as part of India's young-looking squad for the upcoming five T20Is against West Indies, something he wasn't yet dreaming about.
"I was not thinking about the national side," Varma, who is representing South Zone in the ongoing Duleep Trophy in Bengaluru, said after the second day's play against North Zone. "My mom and dad were crying on video call yesterday; they were very emotional. My childhood friend called me [saying] you have got selected. That was the time - around 8 o'clock [pm] - that I knew I was selected."
Other than his captain Rohit, Mumbai's set-up also includes former India batter Sachin Tendulkar, who even dined at Varma's place during the IPL. And Varma, on his part, didn't let go of the opportunity to get some advice out of the two experienced players.
"I have heard a lot from Rohit bhai and Sachin sir, and also from Virat [Kohli] bhai. They always tell that when you are in good form, your subconscious mind is in the right place," Varma said. "They also tell me to play close to the body… they always tell that [preparing] off the field is very important."
Varma smashed 343 runs in this year's IPL, where he struck at 164. Only two Indian batters, Suryakumar Yadav and Ajinkya Rahane, had a better strike rate for those to have hit at least 300 runs this season, even as Varma's debut IPL season in 2022 fetched him 397 runs. He already dreams about delivering in a World Cup, even if he wasn't thinking about an India call-up just yet.
"I visualise every night how I can bat: if in a World Cup match, we are four or five down for 40 or 50, from there on, how can I take the team forward? It helps in making it easy for me," Varma said.
With the next T20 World Cup less than a year away, Varma's technique and temperament, as highlighted by Rohit, might as well see him doing that there and then. Only time will tell if he can translate his success in IPL to international cricket.

Himanshu Agrawal is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo