Dhoni, Kirsten were reluctant to include Kohli in Indian team: Vengsarkar

Last Updated: Thu, Mar 08, 2018 15:24 hrs

Former chairman of selectors Dilip Vengsarkar revealed that he lost his job for selecting a young Virat Kohli way back in 2008.

Speaking at an event, Vengsarkar further said that former skipper MS Dhoni and then coach Gary Kirsten were reluctant in including Kohli in the Indian team.

The incident took place during the 2008 tour of Sri Lanka when Dhoni was leading the team with Kirsten as coach. Vengsarkar chose to pick Kohli, the U-19 World Cup winning skipper ahead of seasoned domestic heavyweight S Badrinath.

Incidentally, it was the first season of the IPL and Dhoni having captained the Indian team for a year was also the skipper of Chennai Super Kings.

"There was an Emerging Players tournament between Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and India in 2008. We decided to send only Under-23 players for this tour. That year, we had won the U-19 World Cup as well, and Virat Kohli was the captain of that team. We included him in that team," Vengsarkar said.

"I went to Brisbane to watch those matches. This match was against New Zealand, and they had a stronger side than us. They had a few Test players too. In that match he scored 123 not out, and I knew we needed to play him in the Indian team. I felt he was mature as a batsman."

"I felt the ODI leg of the Sri Lanka tour was an ideal situation to include him in the squad. The other four selectors told me, 'Dilip bhai we will do whatever you say. There is no problem at all.' But Gary Kirsten and Dhoni were reluctant because they said they hadn't seen Kohli before. I told them, 'You haven't seen him but I have. This boy needs to play'.

"I knew that Badrinath was from the south and he was from Chennai Super Kings. From N Srinivasan's team. He would have to miss out if Kohli had to be picked. And that happened. I picked Virat Kohli, and Badrinath went out."

An injured Sachin Tendulkar missed out the ODIs and Badrinath played along with Kohli. But the present Indian skipper impressed straightaway by scoring a half-century in five matches that he played.

However, Vengsarkar had to deal with N Srinivasan.

"Next day Srinivasan asked me, 'How could you leave Badrinath?'" Vengsarkar said. "I said I had seen the Emerging tour, and that Virat Kohli was an exceptional player. He said, 'But Badrinath has scored 800 runs for Tamil Nadu.' I said he will get his chance. Srinivasan said, 'When will he get his chance? He is 29.' I said he will get his chance when he gets it. I cannot make guarantees.

"The next day he took [Kris] Srikkanth to Sharad Pawar - the BCCI president - and sent me home. That was the end of my career as a selector."

Vengsarkar is not the only selector to have spoken about Srinivasan ruling the BCCI with an iron fist. During 2011-12, Mohinder Amarnath, then chairman of selectors proposed to sack Dhoni as captain of India following whitewashes in Australia and England.

However, Srinivasan intervened and didn't approve the proposal as according to BCCI's constitution all captaincy changes had to be ratified by the board president.

Dhoni went on to captain India till he retired in Tests and continued to remain captain until the 2015 World Cup.

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