Dilip Vengsarkar reveals story behind Virat Kohli’s selection for Team India
Former India chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar has spoken about his initial impression of Virat Kohli that assured him the youngster could be the future of the Indian cricket team. Kohli made his debut for India in 2008 just a few months after leading the U-19 Indian team to the World Cup title. Even though Kohli got off to a slow start in his career, he continued to improve upon his game and kept learning from his errors. Now, after a span of twelve years, Kohli is one of the biggest names in the world of cricket and there are only a few who could match up to his level of batting in the modern era. Vengsarkar recalled the qualities that he noticed in Kohli that led him to select him in the Indian team.
“I had watched Virat Kohli, who was playing for Delhi at the time, in a U-16 match against Bombay in Kolkata. He was 15 years old at the time. His captain was Tejashwi Yadav. He looked very good,” Vengsarkar said in a Facebook Live video interview with Sportskeeda.
“In the U-19 World Cup, he led the team to a great victory. He was in good form, he scored runs also, he led the team also very well. Then, there was an Emerging Players Tournament in Australia, where New Zealand and Australia participate ever year.
“I was the chairman of the selection committee at the time. We decided that we must pick players for the tournament who are finished players, who would play for India very soon. Especially U-23 boys. We picked Virat Kohli in that team,” Vengsarkar recalled.
On July 18, India Emerging Players team met the Kiwis Emerging Players team. On this day, Kohli’s fate was sealed.
“I had gone to watch the match against New Zealand. Glenn Turner was there, Greg Chappell was sitting with me. He was in charge of the Australia A team at the time.
“In that match, the Kiwis had scored 240 or 250 (248/6). Virat was asked to open the innings. He scored 123* (120*, actually). I know the exact scores, I was watching every ball,” the former India captain said.
“After scoring his hundred, he did not give away his wicket, he remained unbeaten and went on to win the match for his side. That really impressed me. And there I thought here is a boy who must be pushed in the Indian team because he was mentally mature. We picked him and the rest is history,” Vengsarkar added.