Dhoni, Kirsten didn’t want Virat Kohli in the Indian team in 2008: Vengsarkar

The BCCI hierarchy wanted to persist with Subramanian Badrinath

Virat Kohli
Captain Virat Kohli of India leaves the field. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Dilip Vengsarkar has claimed that he got Virat Kohli into the Indian team all on his own team as a few key men in the BCCI hierarchy didn’t want his selection in 2008 and were instead willing to give the Tamil Nadu middle order batsman Subramanian Badrinath a longer run.

Vengsarkar was very impressed with Virat’s performance in the U19 World Cup, so he first picked him for an emerging players tournament which took place in Australia and Vengsarkar personally watched Virat bat in one of the games of that tournament where the current Indian captain opened the innings and scored a stroke-filled 123.

Recalling that innings which came against West Indies, Vengsarkar says that the West Indies team had a few Test players in their ranks and for a youngster to play that kind of a knock against that attack in those conditions was a testimony of his character and skills and having watched it first-hand, he was absolutely certain that Virat was the man for the long-term.

However, when he proposed the player’s name in the selection committee meeting, MS Dhoni and Gary Kirsten who was the captain and the coach of the Indian team at that time were pretty hesitant about it as they had not seen that much of Virat Kohli with the bat yet.

But Vengsarkar eventually vetoed the call as the chief selector and put Virat in the squad which, needless to say, turned out to be an absolutely correct decision as it gave the Indian Cricket a player of the legendary stature.

The standoff between Badrinath and Kohli

However, as he did it for the sake of Indian Cricket, Vengsarkar ended up annoying the then BCCI treasurer N Srinivasan who was also the owner of the Chennai Super Kings, a team which Badrinath was a part of.

According to Vengsarkar, Srinivasan reminded him that Badrinath has had a good first class season and he has amassed more than 800 runs for his state Tamil Nadu. Vengsarkar assured Srinivasan that Badrinath was in the line and if a vacancy pops up, he will be picked in future, but Srinivasan decided to make him pay for that as he raised the issue with Sharad Powar, who was the BCCI chief back then, and it ended up with Vengsarkar being removed from his post.

“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 he will get his chance. But the very next day, he took Srikkanth (who replaced Vengsarkar as the chief selector) to Sharad Powar and that was the end of my selection tenure”. Vengsarkar was quoted saying by TOI.

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