Dilip Vengsarkar’s tenure as the chief of BCCI’s national selection committee in 2008 was tumultuous. Vengsarkar has hinted that he was removed from the chief selector’s position, as then BCCI Treasurer N Srinivasan wasn’t happy with him backing Virat Kohli over S Badrinath, who hailed from Tamil Nadu.
Speaking at a function in Mumbai, Vengsarkar revealed that he strongly backed 2008 U19 World Cup winner Virat Kohli and insisted he should be added to the ODI squad of that year’s tour to Sri Lanka. According to Vengsarkar, when the selection committee met to pick the Test and ODI squads for the Sri Lanka tour, he was very keen to hand Kohli a debut in the ODIs but that then captain MS Dhoni and coach Gary Kirsten were not convinced.
Vengsarkar said, “I felt this was an ideal situation to include Kohli in the squad. Although the other four selectors agreed with my decision, Gary Kirsten and MS Dhoni were reluctant as they had not seen much of Kohli. 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. N Srinivasan was the BCCI treasurer at that time. He was upset that Badrinath was dropped because he was their player.”
A veteran of 116 Tests and 129 ODIs, Dilip Vengsarkar took over from Kiran More as chief selector in 2006 and was replaced by Kris Srikkanth in 2008, thanks to influence of Srinivasan.
Badrinath made his ODI debut in the second ODI of the 2008 Sri Lanka tour and played the three matches, with scores of 27*, 6 and 6. Kohli too made his debut in the first ODI and played all five matches, scoring 12, 37, 25, 54 and 31.
“He [Srinivasan] 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 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 (Kris) Srikkanth, who later succeeded Vengasarkar as chief selector, to Sharad Pawar, who was the (BCCI) president then and that was the end of my selection tenure,” Vengsarkar said.
(With inputs from Times of India)
By Jatin Sharma