Pieter Malan reminisces Kohli's wicket

"I tell everybody that I once got Virat Kohli out. Everybody who knows me knows that I got him out in 2008,” says South African all-rounder Pieter Malan.

South Africa 'A' cricket player Pieter Malan at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium on July 30.   -  Ashwin Achal

Pieter Malan never misses an opportunity to remind his friends about the time he got one over the world’s best batsman. Never mind that it happened a decade ago.

In the final of the 2008 ICC Under-19 World Cup, held at Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), South Africa faced India in a tight encounter. Virat Kohli made his way to 19, before Malan got the India skipper with his medium-pacers.

India went on to win by 12 runs, and Kohli went on become the sport’s biggest star. Malan, on the other hand, did not quite live up to the potential that he showed in the junior circuit. The all-rounder has competed in 128 first-class fixtures, but has yet to earn a South Africa call-up.

Malan smiles when asked about sending Kohli back to the hut all those years ago. “Kohli hit me over cover for a six at the start of my spell. Then I took a bit of pace off, and he got out at point to a really good catch (by Sybrand Engelbrecht),” he said, "I tell everybody that I once got Kohli out. Everybody who knows me knows that I got him out in 2008.”

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Malan remembers Kohli as a special talent. “Even back then, I had never seen anyone play spin as well as Kohli did. He hit bowlers effortlessly, wherever he wanted to. We knew there was something special in him,” he said.

Also part of that Indian under-19 squad was Ravindra Jadeja. “The Indian spinners (Jadeja and Iqbal Abdulla) were a big step up from the spinners we faced in South Africa," Malan said.

The 28-year-old — the opening batsman of the touring South Africa ‘A’ squad — stated that his own cricketing journey did not progress as smoothly as some of the others. Two years ago, he even considered quitting the sport to take up a sales job.

“There were some dark times, especially when I saw some of my under-19 teammates – like Rilee Rossouw and Wayne Parnell – go on to play international cricket. I realised that I needed to focus on myself, and not on others. Everyone has his own path,” he said.

"I took it easy after I was picked for the U-19 World Cup. Cricket has a way teaching you some tough lessons if you take things lightly. I had to really knuckle down and rebuild," he concluded.