Retired Indian cricketer and former Chairman of selectors, Dilip Vengsarkar, on Wednesday alleged that he was sacked from his position for picking a 19-year-old Virat Kohli over Tamil Nadu’s veteran batsman Subramaniam Badrinath in India’s ODI squad in 2008, as the decision did not sit well with BCCI’s then-treasurer N Srinivasan.
Speaking at an event held by Marathi Patrakar Sangh in Mumbai, Vengsarkar also added that the decision to include Virat Kohli was not favoured by MS Dhoni and Gary Kirsten who were India’s captain and coach at that time, but he insisted that Kohli deserved his place in the squad.
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,” he added.
“My fellow selectors told me we go by what you say. But Gary Kirsten and MS Dhoni told me, ‘no we haven’t seen him play. Let’s keep the same team going’,” he continued.
“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.
Vengsarkar decided to stick to his decision to pick Kohli over Badrinath and was immediately intervened by N Srinivasan who questioned him on what basis Badrinath was axed, and argued that Badrinath has scored over 800 runs for Tamil Nadu in that season, to which Vengsarkar had replied that the Tamil Nadu batsman would eventually get his chance.
“He (N Srinivasan) 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 took Srikkanth to Sharad Pawar, who was the (BCCI) president then and that was the end of my selection tenure,” Vengsarkar said.