Former India Test cricketer Dilip Vengsarkar indicated his role as the chairman of the national selection committee was cut short due to his insistence on selecting Virat Kohli for India’s tour of Sri Lanka in 2008.

The 61-year-old was elected the chairman of selectors in 2006 along with Venkatapathy Raju, while Sanjay Jagdale, Bhupinder Singh Sr. and Ranjib Biswal remained on the committee from the previous regime headed by former India wicketkeeper Kiran More.

Vengsarkar revealed that then BCCI treasurer N Srinivasan was not happy about his decision to include Kohli as part of the squad traveling for the One Day International Series against Sri Lanka. Srinivasan along with then skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and coach Gary Kirsten were keen on Subramaniam Badrinath, who was starring for the Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and Tamil Nadu in first-class cricket.

Dilip Vengsarkar Dilip Vengsarkar was the chairman of the national cricket selection committee between 2006 and 2008. Photo: Getty

"I felt this was an ideal situation to include Kohli in the squad,” Vengsarkar said, as quoted by the Times of India. “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.”

However, the chairman of selectors ensured that Kohli, who had recently won the Under-19 Cricket World Cup in Malaysia and impressed Vengsarkar at the Emerging Players Tour to Australia, traveled with the squad to the Island nation.  The inclusion of the current India skipper meant Badrinath would not be afforded regular game time, which did not go down well with Srinivasan, who was also the owner of the Chennai IPL franchise.

Badrinath made his debut in the second ODI and played three matches in total, but failed to impress with scores of 27*, 6 and 6. Kohli, meanwhile, made his debut in the first ODI and went on to play in all five matches with scores of 12, 37, 25, 54 and 31. However, as Kohli was taking his first steps into international stardom, the fate of the man who selected him was being sealed as Kris Srikkanth replaced Vengsarkar as the chairman of the national selection committee in September 2008. 

“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,” Vengsarkar said.

“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, to Sharad Pawar, who was the (BCCI) president then and that was the end of my selection tenure," Vengsarkar added.