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News

Tilak wants to finish games for India without 'any pressure or expectations'

He came into this T20I series after a prolific Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, where he averaged 96 with a strike rate of 143.28

Hemant Brar
Hemant Brar
25-Nov-2023
With India resting some of their key players for the five-match T20I series against Australia, the fringe players have a chance to make an impression ahead of the 2024 T20 World Cup in June. However, Tilak Varma doesn't want to put himself under pressure by thinking about that.
"My mindset is clear," Tilak said on the eve of the second T20I in Thiruvananthapuram. "I have got a role in the team, so I just want to stick to that role. I don't have any pressure or expectations of doing well. I am just looking forward to fulfilling my role for the team.
"I was batting at No. 5 in the last game, so my mindset was if it is in my arc, I will go for it. Otherwise, I will just rotate [the strike]."
In the first T20I, India were chasing 209, and needed 75 in 7.3 overs when Tilak walked out. He hit Tanveer Sangha for back-to-back fours but fell for 12 off 10 balls as he tried to attack the legspinner once again.
"I wanted to take charge against their legspinner because we needed ten per over," Tilak said. "So my mindset was clear: if the legspinner is bowling, I will go for it. Against the fast bowlers, Surya bhai [Suryakumar Yadav] will do the same. So in that over, I wanted to attack the legspinner."
Suryakumar's 80 off 42 balls, though, took India closer before Rinku Singh finished it off with an unbeaten 22 off 14 balls. Tilak, too, wants to finish games, just like Rinku has been doing.
"I like finishing the games," he said. "I am learning [that] from Rinku as he has been doing it very consistently, even for the Indian team. I think in the coming matches I will be doing that."
Tilak came into the series on the back of a good Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, India's domestic T20 tournament. He scored 288 runs in seven innings at an average of 96.00 and a strike rate of 143.28. His highest was an unbeaten 121 against the eventual runners-up Baroda.
Tilak is looking to "continue the same form" into this series as well. Moreover, he has "good memories" of Thiruvananthapuram. In 2019, he was part of the 50-over Under-19 quadrangular series involving South Africa Afghanistan, India A and India B that was played there.
In that series, he scored 115 runs in three games with a best of 44 not out. Two of those matches were played at the Thumba ground, and the third at the Greenfield International Stadium, the venue for the second T20I on Sunday.
"It was a good, seaming wicket at that time," he recalled. "But usually the Kerala wicket is on the slower side and turns a bit. I don't know how it is now. We will have a look today and go with the flow."
Last week, India lost to Australia in the final of the ODI World Cup after staying unbeaten in the tournament until that match. But Tilak is not looking at the current assignment as a revenge series.
"On one bad day we lost, otherwise we had a superb, fantastic World Cup," he said. "I am not looking to beat Australia for that. We just want to go one game at a time and follow the basics."

Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo