Kohli extremely focussed now as captain and player, says Vengsarkar

Dilip Vengsarkar, as chairman of the selection committee, had given the young Virat Kohli his big break in 2008.

Dilip Vengsarkar... “I have not seen any other cricketer, in the last 10 years, who has made a such an impact across all formats of the game.”   -  PTI (File Photo)

Dilip Vengsarkar has always had the knack to spot talent, and one of the many players he identified in his nascent years was Virat Kohli.

As chairman of the national selection committee along with Sanjay Jagdale, Venkatapathy Raju, Ranjib Biswal and Bhupinder Singh Sr., the former India captain, who turned out for India in 116 Tests and 129 ODIs, decided to blood young Kohli into Indian team for the series in Sri Lanka in August 2008. Kohli had not turned 20 then.

“I saw [Kohli] score 120 not out (as an opener) against New Zealand in the Emerging Players Tournament in Australia in July 2008. I thought he was always exceptionally talented. We picked him soon for the one-day series in Sri Lanka. After making a good impression initially, he seemed to have lost his way. But after that phase, he has worked very hard on his fitness and game. He’s extremely focussed now as player and captain,” said Vengsarkar. The big breakthrough was made full use of; Kohli is all set to receive the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy (ICC Cricketer of the Year award), and has also been named the ODI player of the year.

Impactful player

Kohli made only 204 runs in five innings in the Emerging Players tournament in 2008, but the following year he made 398 with two centuries and as many half-centuries in the same tournament in Australia.

“I have not seen any other cricketer, in the last 10 years, who has made a such an impact across all formats of the game. He takes tremendous pride in his performance, leads by example, sets high standards, maintains fitness and wants others to follow him,” said Vengsarkar, who after retirement from the game has been involved in the grassroot-level coaching in Mumbai and Pune.

The India captain, who has got hot under the collar on occasions, has not escaped notice of the discerning, including former West Indies fast bowler Michael Holding, who likened Kohli to a young Vivian Richards.

But Vengsarkar, director of the BCCI’s National Cricket Academy, believes that Kohli’s aggression on the field brings the best out of him. “Kohli has done well, really well, as batsman and captain,” said Vengsarkar.

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