Mumbai: Virat Kohli was always tipped to achieve laurels and play for India at the highest level and to his credit, the Delhi lad did not disappoint as he now leads the Indian cricket team. The former India Under-19 World Cup-winning skipper is now also one of the best modern-day batsmen in world cricket.
While Kohli and MS Dhoni now hunt in a pair in the limited-overs cricket, former India cricketer and ex-selector Dilip Vengsarkar revealed that Dhoni and the then India coach Gary Kirsten were once not in a favour of picking Kohli in the team and wanted to give a chance to Tamil Nadu batsman Subramaniam Badrinath.
"Me and my fellow selectors had decided to pick U-23 players for India A in the four nation Emerging players trophy. Around the same time India had won the U-19 World Cup and Virat Kohli was the captain,” said Vengsarkar during the Mumbai Marathi Patrakar Sangh awards function in the city on Wednesday.
"I picked him in the tournament and went to Brisbane to watch him. He used to open the batting at the time. He scored 123 against New Zealand who had many more Test players in their side. I saw him bat and felt we should pick him for India. I felt he was ready. India was to play in Sri Lanka next in a one-day series. I thought that was the right opportunity,” he added.
"My fellow selectors told me we go by what you say. But Gary Kirsten and MS Dhoni told me, 'no we haven't seen him play. Let's keep the same team going',” he continued.
Vengsarkar decided to stick to his decision to pick Kohli over Badrinath and it eventually cost him his job as the then BCCI treasurer N Srinivasan
“I told them that I have seen him and we have to include him in the team. I knew that they were keen on keeping S Badrinath in the team because he was a Chennai Super Kings player. If Kohli would have come in, Badrinath would have been dropped,” Vengsarkar said.
“N Srinivasan was the BCCI treasurer at that time. He was upset that Badrinath was dropped because he was their (Tamil Nadu) player. He (Srinivasan) asked me on what basis Badrinath was axed, and I explained that I had been on the Emerging Players tour to Australia where I saw Virat, who is an exceptional player and that is why he is in the team. He argued that Badrinath has scored over 800 runs for Tamil Nadu. I told him that he will get his chance,” added Vengsarkar.
“The very next day, Srinivasan took (Kris) Srikkanth, who succeeded Vengasarkar as a chief selector, to the then BCCI president Sharad Pawar, and that was the end of my selection tenure," Vengsarkar concluded.
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