Coming from a humble background to becoming a sensation overnight, Mumbai Indians' new recruit Tilak Varma's story is truly inspiring.
Varma's father Namboori Nagaraju, who works as an electrician in Hyderabad, couldn't afford to continue his son's cricket coaching. So the southpaw's coach, Salam Bayash, took care of all his expenses, provided him proper training and even gave him all the equipment to continue chasing his dream.
As a young cricketer, Varma had to face many hardships before reaching a stage when he had some of the wealthiest people of the country fighting to bag his services for their respective IPL franchise.
The 19-year-old's name popped up in the uncapped players' list in the 2022 IPL mega auction, and MI had to beat the likes of Sunrisers Hyderabad, Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals to bag his services for Rs 1.7 crore.
Varma had earned 8.5 times more than his base price, as his bidding started at Rs 20 lakh. Since then, he has been the subject of much discussions in the cricketing world.
Asked about the first reaction of his parents when they got the news, Varma told IANS, "As soon as I got selected for Mumbai Indians, I made a video call to my parents. They were very happy, but unable to say anything; tears were rolling down their eyes. Papa was unable to talk at all. I said that I have been selected for Mumbai Indians. I too had no idea what to say! Then I said that I am disconnecting the phone. It was the most emotional moment of my life."
Asked about his own feelings when he received the news of being picked by MI, Varma, who usually plays in the middle-order and can chip in with occasional off-spin, said it was surreal.
"I was on a video call with my coach when my name was announced for the auctions. I can't express my feelings when MI bid for me. I have admired MI since my childhood. I was with my Ranji team when it happened. After hearing the news, all my teammates were very happy and started dancing," he told IANS.
The Hyderabad cricketer, who was part the triumphant India team that won the U-19 ODI World Cup earlier this year, recalled his early days when he had to wait for basic things.
"My father never says no to anything. He used to say that it will happen, but due to lack of money, he could not afford many things. I broke my bat once. So he said that he would buy a new one, but could not buy it for a long time.
"I then continued to play with the same broken bat. With the broken bat I made the highest runs in U-16 cricket. When my coach saw this, he bought me everything I needed. Whatever I am today is due to my Coach sir," he said.