"Hi Virat, I am in Mumbai. Can we meet?"

Shane Warne texted Virat Kohli as we got into the elevator of a plush South Mumbai hotel. He wasn't expecting a reply anyway, but just wanted to let the then India captain know that he was in Mumbai for the next few days and wanted to catch up with him. After keeping the phone in his pocket, Warne looked at us - me and Ranjit Barthakur, the chairman of Rajasthan Royals - and winked, "the fella doesn't know what awaits him in the next few minutes..."

And we all laughed.


By then, we were at the 12th floor of the Four Seasons Hotel in Mumbai and as we walked into one of the suites, Warne once again dropped a text to Kohli, "See you soon..."

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A few moments later, he was standing next to Kohli. The India captain obviously wasn't expecting this surprise. At the plush hotel to receive the  Sportstar  Aces Awards for the Sportsman of the Year (Cricket), Kohli didn't know that Warne will be handing over the award to him.

It was indeed a surprise for us as well.


A couple of days prior to the event, I caught up with Warne at a Rajasthan Royals get-together and politely asked him if he could be our guest for the day and hand over the trophy to Kohli. And, taking me by surprise, Warne - who was then the mentor and brand ambassador of Rajasthan Royals - said, "Let's do it..."

But I was still not convinced until I received a call from Rajasthan Royals team and Mr. Barthakur on the morning of the event, informing that "Warnie will be there in the next 10 minutes..."

That afternoon, Warne won hearts.

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He gave away the award to Kohli, happily posed for pictures and ensured that he posted it on his social media handles later. From the Australia tour to Test cricket--Kohli and Warne exchanged thoughts on different issues. "Virat's love for Test cricket is something I admire," the spin legend said.

"Virat is a very inspiring cricketer all around the world. He stands up for what he believes in and speaks his heart. He has got a lot of inbuilt skill and talent which is good competition and the will to complete the job. I congratulate him for this award and wish him more success," Warne said.

Kohli, too, was happy to have received the award from his 'childhood hero'. The two chatted for long before Warne had to leave for his other engagement.

It was a warm, fun-filled February afternoon in 2019. But still feels like yesterday.

Thanks for all the memories,  Warnie !