When he backed Kohli, captain Dhoni & coach Kirsten had not heard about him, says Dilip Vengsarkar
Kohli had recently thanked Dhoni for backing him and giving him the No.3 spot in the batting order.
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Former India chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar on Sunday said that he had ensured that young batsman Virat Kohli’s entry into the national team was made faster. That despite the fact that the then skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and team coach Garry Kirsten “had not heard” about the current Indian captain.
Kohli made his India debut in an ODI series against Sri Lanka in 2008 and in the 11 years he has played since for the country, the batsman has amassed almost 20,000 international runs with 66 hundreds. Besides, he is also stepping away from becoming India’s most successful captain in Tests. Vengsarkar, nicknamed “Colonel”, revealed the story while speaking at the launch of a book titled “Howzzat” written by celebrated astrologer Greenstone Lobo in Mumbai.
“…Then I picked Virat Kohli in the (national) team straight away. To be honest with you, we used to play (the) Emerging Players tournament in Australia, and that time I was in charge of the selection committee. And I had gone to Australia to see the match and I had picked him (Virat) because they had won the Under 19 World Cup,” Indian Express cited reports as quoting Vengsarkar, a member of the World Cup-winning squad of 1983.
“And in the first game itself he (Virat) scored a hundred (in that tournament). And I was impressed (and thought) he is the boy (and has) exceptional talent. I came back and others had not heard of him.
Vengsarkar made Dhoni-Kirsten duo to pick Kohli
Vengsarkar also said that the Dhoni-Kirsten duo had not heard of Kohli at the time and was not too convinced about picking him straightaway and wanted him to play a few more games. But the former insisted that the teenager must be picked and the then coach and captain had to give in and Kohli replaced Tamil Nadu batsman Subramaniam Badrinath in the Indian squad.
Kohli is now waiting to become the eighth Indian captain to lead the country in the World Cup starting May 30. He is fast nearing the peak of Mount Sachin Tendulkar whose world record of 100 centuries looks threatened by the former’s brisk pace of scoring.
In a recent interview, the Indian skipper had thanked Dhoni for giving him the opportunity when he was just getting into the team, backing him to come good and trusting him with the No.3 slot in the batting order.