Former chief selector of the Indian team, Dilip Vengsarkar said that he had picked Virat Kohli and pushed his case in the Indian team when even the then captain MS Dhoni and coach Gary Kirsten had not heard about him. Vengsarkar was speaking after launching the book 'Howzzat' penned by Greenstone Lobo.
"...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," Vengsarkar said. "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," he further added.
S Badrinath had to be dropped from the side
The former Mumbai captain also said that they had to drop S Badrinath from the squad to accommodate Kohli, a decision which was not backed by captain Dhoni and coach Kirsten. He also said how he had seen Kohli score a hundred which convinced him that the boy had talent, but once he came back home, no one had actually heard of him.
"MS Dhoni was the captain, Gary Kirsten was the coach of the India team and they had not heard of him, so they said we should not pick him now at the moment and let him play few games and I was insisting that you must pick this guy, there is no question and they had to drop (S) Badrinath at that time," he further added.
Vengsarkar, who was at the helm in Mumbai cricket when Sachin Tendulkar was making waves, recalled how he had identified the maestro and drafted him into the side.
"Sachin Tendulkar was picked when I was the captain of the Bombay (now Mumbai) team, everybody was against him (saying) he was too small (young) at that time but I insisted that he (Tendulkar) should be picked," he recollected.
After establishing himself as perhaps the greatest batsman of this generation, the captaincy of Kohli will be put to the test when he leads the Indian side in the ICC Cricket World Cup which will be held in England from May. The captain has already expressed his satisfaction over the squad picked by the selectors and believes that the positive vibe present in the side is great for him as a skipper.
"There is no personal interest, there is no playing for my performance.. there's nothing of that sort. People are so happy bowling 4 good overs for the team even if their names are not flashed in the news the next day. These are the things that make me so proud to be part of this group," Kohli said in an interview after the World Cup squad was announced.