On Tuesday, July 9, Kane Williamson and Virat Kohli are going to face off as captains of their respective teams in the first semi-final of the ICC 2019 World Cup. This may generate in both men a sense of déjà vu as 11 years ago also, they led their country's team in a cricket World Cup semi-final against each other.
This was the 2008 ICC under-19 World Cup played in Kuala Lumpur which India went on to win. In the semi-final of that event, the Indian colts were led by a young and fiery Kohli while Williamson was at the helm of the New Zealand side. Interestingly, Kane was just 17 at the time while Kohli was 19.
New Zealand won the toss and elected to bat first in that game. However, they could only score 205/8 in their innings with Williamson contributing 37 opening the innings. India had a revised target of 191 in 43 overs due to rains and they got there with seven wickets down in 41.3 overs. Kohli, batting at no. 4, scored 43.
At the pre-match press conference, a journalist from New Zealand asked the India captain whether he could see the potential Williamson had when he faced him at the Under-19 World Cup. Kohli revealed that the massive talent possessed by his Kiwi counterpart became clear to him even before their meeting in Kuala Lumpur. The two cricketers had played against each other in 2007 also in an India under-19 tour of New Zealand. It was there that the India skipper realised that Williamson is a special player.
"It wasn't even 2008, I remember going to New Zealand in 2007. We were playing an under-19 Test and he played a shot off the backfoot against one of our fastest bowlers. I remember standing at slip and telling a teammate that I have never seen anyone playing a shot like that," Virat recalled. This match was part of Indian under-19 team's tour of New Zealand in January-February 2007.
Since that time, the two men have turned from talented boys to great men in cricket. When they walk out to bat at Old Trafford, they will do so with their whole country hoping for a big score from them.