Former India skipper Dilip Vengsarkar on Wednesday revealed that his tenure as India’s chief selector was abruptly cut short after he decided to included then 19-year-old Virat Kohli into the national team in place of Tamil Nadu’s S Badrinath, who was favoured by then skipper MS Dhoni and coach Gary Kirsten.
Former BCCI president, and then treasurer N Srinivasan wasn’t pleased with the decision either, the former selection committee chairman said.
Following the episode Vengsarkar, who took the responsibility in October 2006, was replaced by Krishnamachari Srikkanth as the chief selector back in September 2008, he claims.
Explaining the circumstances, Vengsarkar said, “There was an Emerging Players tour to Australia. The selection committee decided to include only U-23 players for this tour. That year, we had won the U-19 World Cup as well and Virat Kohli was captain of that team. We included him in the Emerging Players team. I had gone to Brisbane to see those matches.
“Virat opened the innings against West Indies who had a few Test cricketers in their ranks, but we had none and in that match, Virat scored 123 not out. I felt that we should play this guy in the Indian team,” Vengsarkar said during an event held in Mumbai to felicitate sports journalists.
Vengsarkar stated that the knock convinced him that young Kohli deserved a place in the Indian playing XI. However, his suggestion did not sit well with the captain and coach.
“I felt this was an ideal situation to include Kohli in the squad,” Vengsarkar said. “Although the other four selectors agreed with my decision, Gary Kirsten and MS Dhoni were reluctant as they had not seen much of Kohli.
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“I told them that I have seen him and we have to include him in the team. I knew that they were keen on keeping S Badrinath in the team because he was a Chennai Super Kings player. If Kohli would have come in, Badrinath would have been dropped,” Vengsarkar said.
Srinivasan soon intervened and questioned Vengsarkar’s decision.
“N Srinivasan was the BCCI treasurer at that time. He was upset that Badrinath was dropped because he was their (Tamil Nadu) player.
“He asked me on what basis Badrinath was axed, and I explained that I had been on the Emerging Players tour to Australia where I saw Virat, who is an exceptional player and that is why he is in the team. He (Srinivasan) argued that Badrinath has scored over 800 runs for Tamil Nadu. I told him that he will get his chance.
He then asked, ‘When will he get his chance? He is already 29 now’. I told him he will get his chance but I can’t tell you when. The very next day, he (Srinivasan) took Srikkanth to Sharad Pawar, who was the (BCCI) president then and that was the end of my selection tenure,” Vengsarkar said.