Dilip Vengsarkar, former Indian captain and chairman of national selectors, recently reminisced about a Virat Kohli hundred during the 2007-08 India A Emerging tour of Australia that eventually paved way for his national selection.
Vengsarkar was the chairman of national selectors at the time and he had gone to the stadium to watch India A take on New Zealand. Virat, who is primarily a middle-order batsman, opened that day, and his swashbuckling 123 paved way for an emphatic win for his team.
Vengsarkar was hugely impressed by Virat’s mature innings and according to him, one thing that impressed him the best that Virat, despite a getting a hundred, did not get ahead of himself and ensured that he took the team past the finishing line and stayed unbeaten, something that would eventually become his trademark in years to follow.
“In the first match against New Zealand, they had scored 240-250 and Virat Kohli was asked to open the innings and he scored 123*. What I appreciated was that even after his hundred, he went on to win the game for his team and he remained not out,” Dilip Vengsarkar told Sportskeeda.
He added: “That really impressed me and there I thought that here is a boy that we must push into the Indian team because he was mentally mature and of course we picked him and the rest is history,”
Dilip Vengsarkar opens up about his vision which led to Virat Kohli’s selection
Vengsarkar revealed that his selection committee had decided to give chance to a few fringe players, especially the U-23 boys, for the Emerging Nations tournament and that was the reason why Virat was selected.
“When there was an emerging players’ tournament in Australia, I was the chairman of the selection committee (for the Indian team). We had decided at that point of time that we must pick players who were fringe players or who would play for India very soon, especially the U-23 boys. So we had picked Virat Kohli in the team,” Dilip Vengsarkar added.
That move paid dividends substantially. A few months later Virat Kohli, the 2008 U-19 World Cup-winning captain, was opening the innings for the national side in Sri Lanka.
The rest, as they say, is history. Virat Kohli has since then scaled a plethora of heights and is now revered as probably the greatest-ever white-ball batsman to have ever played this beautiful game.
Selectors often receive flake on their selection ‘blunders’ but they don’t seem to get the same credit for identifying and giving an opportunity to a potential superstar. It’s time Dilip Vengsarkar also gets his due.