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Former Indian cricketer and chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar recently revealed how he understood the youngster Virat Kohli had the potential to become a world-class cricketer.
In early 2008, Virat Kohli earned the initial limelight after leading the India U19 team to win the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2008. Later in August 2008, Kohli made his international debut during the ODI series against the hosts Sri Lanka.
Though during that initial period of Kohli’s senior career, then Indian captain MS Dhoni and Head Coach Gary Kirsten were not interested to include young Kohli in the senior national team, Dilip Vengsarkar was confident enough about that youngster. Recently, then the chairman of the national selection committee Vengsarkar revealed how he got that early confidence about Kohli.
Vengsarkar brought up a story during the Emerging Players Tournament 2008 which Australia hosted in July 2008. During the match between India Emerging Players and New Zealand Emerging Players at Brisbane on 18th July 2008, youngster Kohli guided the team to the easy victory with his responsible centurion knock.
During a recent live session with Sportskeeda, Vengsarkar said, “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.”
Chasing down the 249 runs target, Kohli opened that innings and scored 120 not out which helped the team to successfully chase that target in 41 overs after losing three wickets (251/3). Vengsarkar impressed with his responsible batting, who not only scored a match-winning century but also finished that game safely, and he felt that Kohli was mentally enough mature to serve for the Indian team.
Vengsarkar 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.”
Why Dilip Vengsarkar-led national selection committee selected Virat Kohli in the Emerging Players tournament
Vengsarkar also opened up why his selection committee chose the 19-year-old Kohli in that Emerging Players Tournament 2008.
Vengsarkar commented, “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.”
In the very next month of that Emerging Players Tournament 2008, Kohli earned the Men-in-Blue cap, and he is now leading the Indian team after earning the tag of one of the greatest batsmen.