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I knew Virat Kohli would lead India one day, says Sr. Delhi selector

mid-day meets Hari Gidwani at his sweetmeat outlet in Delhi where he reveals how he picked Kohli to lead the northern city in domestic cricke

New Delhi: Fatehpuri Chowk is very much like Mumbai's Crawford Market —congested, chaotic and crazy. At one end is Chaina Ram, one of the oldest sweet shops in Delhi co-owned by Hari Gidwani.

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Former first-class cricketer Hari Gidwani at his sweet shop Chaina Ram in Fatehpuri Chowk, Delhi yesterday. Pic/Harit N Joshi
Former first-class cricketer Hari Gidwani at his sweet shop Chaina Ram in Fatehpuri Chowk, Delhi yesterday. Pic/Harit N Joshi

Sixty two-year-old Gidwani scored 6805 in 180 first-class innings at 42.53 with 229 in a Ranji Trophy match between Bihar and Karnataka at Jamshedpur in 1990 being his highest. The Karnataka attack comprised Roger Binny, Javagal Srinath and Anil Kumble.

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Many know him as a former first-class cricketer who played for Bihar and then Delhi. Others know him as 'someone in Delhi & District Cricket Association (DDCA)'. For the record, he is currently a senior Delhi selector and has donned that hat several times in the past since 1998.

However, not many are aware that Gidwani was instrumental in convincing his co-selectors and chairman of selector Chetan Chauhan to make Virat Kohli the captain of the Delhi team midway into the 2009-10 Ranji Trophy season.

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Gidwani impressed
"There were a lot of seniors around, but I was very impressed by the leadership qualities Virat showed while leading the U-19 team to victory in the World Cup final in 2008 at Kuala Lumpur. I knew he would lead the Indian senior team one day. He had that spark.

Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli

The level of energy he brought to the field was remarkable. He was a clear decision-maker and liked to take charge of the proceedings," Gidwani told mid-day yesterday. Kohli was made India's Test skipper after MS Dhoni abruptly retired from the longer format last year and the Delhi dasher is viewed as the natural successor to Dhoni when he hangs his boots in limited overs cricket.

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Not an easy decision
However, making Kohli the skipper wasn't easy. "My co-selectors were not happy with my idea. I tried convincing Chetan Chauhan (former Test opener) and he found some logic in my reasoning. They were worried about the furore changing the captain midway in the season would create, but we had a good enough reason to change the captain. Aakash Chopra was clearly struggling as captain and batsman so that's how the decision was taken," Gidwani said.

Under Kohli, Delhi won their remaining two Ranji matches of the season — against Saurashtra and Maharashtra. He also led the team in the one-day Vijay Hazare Trophy.

"The team was coached by Manoj Prabhakar (former India pacer). I knew that the players were not comfortable in the dressing room. The other guys were too sweet to say anything to Prabhakar. Virat, though was different. He had that little arrogance and showed Prabhakar his place when he was appointed captain. The team that wasn't doing well, suddenly started winning. It was a remarkable turnaround for Delhi in that season," said Gidwani.

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