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Does Tilak Varma’s Asia Cup selection ensure a World Cup 2023 seat? Let’s look at his performance

Team India on Monday finally announced its squad for the upcoming Asia Cup and now it is more or less confirmed that the selection committee under Ajit Agarkar will select the squad for the ODI World Cup from this list of selected players. Tilak Varma made it to India’s Asia Cup squad on the back of his strong performance against West Indies during the tour that ended this month.

Talking about the World Cup squad, Ajit Agarkar said at the press conference, “It is a no-brainer. We have picked these 17 guys (For Asia Cup). There are players coming back from injury. Hope everything goes well for them. September 5 is the deadline (for the WC squad) and there is a camp before we announce the squad. We will have a look at our players and it will be in and around these guys only (the World Cup squad).”

However, one name which has grabbed the maximum attention in the squad announced today is that  of young left-hander batsman Tilak Varma.

Tilak Varma has seen a lot of success at a young age – he played domestic cricket across all formats before turning 17. He was also a part of India’s ICC U19 World Cup squad in 2020 which made it to the finals but stumbled against Bangladesh.

On Tilak Varma’s inclusion in the squad, Agarkar said, “Tilak Varma is promising. Asia Cup is a big opportunity for him. We saw some real promise not only in terms of performances but also temperament during the T20I series against West Indies. This will give him exposure. He is also a left-hander,” said Agarkar in a press conference.

Tilak Varma in his debut campaign in Indian Premiere League(IPL) last year made 397 runs in 14 matches at an average of 36.09 and a strike rate of 131.02. In IPL 2023, Tilak Varma scored 343 runs in 11 matches at 42.88 while striking at 164.11.

In the recently concluded India-West Indies T20I series, Tilak impressed fans with his composure and maturity on the field, putting a big prize on his wicket. In five matches, he scored 173 runs at an average of 57.66, with one half-century and a strike rate of around 139.

While India sees the return of regular ODI stars in Rahul and Iyer, they have also picked rising star Tilak Varma and T20I performer Suryakumar Yadav in the squad.

Team India have struggled with a settled middle-order combination of late, with a particular lack of clarity around the number four position. In the recently concluded ODI series against the West Indies, they tried three different batters at the position in as many games.

Asia Cup will serve as an important benchmark for India’s preparations for the World Cup starting in October and will also help selectors make choices for the marquee event.

Talking further about Varma’s inclusion, Hayden said it could be a move with other big events in mind.

“In the lead up to World Cups, you’re always going to have some players and we’ve seen the class of Tilak Varma. I think it’s a good strategy in terms of not just this World Cup but even potentially getting into the next World Cup (T20 World Cup 2024) as well,” he said.

Hayden said the presence of Varma in the squad will put pressure on Suryakumar Yadav, who has had a hard time auditioning for the No 4 position in ODIs.

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Updated: 21 Aug 2023, 09:00 PM IST

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