Former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar has hinted that his term as chief selector of the BCCI’s national selection committee was cut short in 2008 owing to his backing of current Indian skipper Virat Kohli over Tamil Nadu batsman S Badrinath, which did not sit well with then BCCI treasurer N Srinivasan.
Speaking at a function in Mumbai on Wednesday (March 7), Vengsarkar told journalists that his insistence that a teenaged Kohli – who had led India Under19s to the junior World Cup in 2008 – be added to India’s ODI squad for the tour of Sri Lanka that year was what forced Srinivasan to end his tenure as chief selector. 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.
“I felt it 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,” said Vengsarkar. “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.”
Vengsarkar, who played 116 Tests and 129 ODIs, took over from Kiran More as chief selector in 2006 and was replaced less than two years later by former team-mate Kris Srikkanth. It was Srinivasan’s influence, alluded Vengsarkar, that saw him lose his job and Srikkanth take over.
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 also 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 next day he took [Kris] Srikkanth to Sharad Pawar – the BCCI president – and sent me home. That was the end of my career as a selector.”