New Delhi: Today, Virat Kohli is a top dog in world cricket. Kohli has dominated bowlers in all three formats of the game with such consummate ease that many have already hailed him as one of the greatest batsmen of all time.
But at the start of his Test career, the 28-year-old was struggling to keep his place in the Indian team. After registering a series of lacklustre performances in the first six Test matches, he almost made way for Rohit Sharma in the playing XI. Luckily, he got the backing of skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, and got to play one more match, one match where the Delhi batsman proved his worth.
This not so well known facet of Kohli's career was revealed by none other than Virender Sehwag while doing commentary during the ongoing India-England second Test at Mohali. Sehwag, then the vice captain to Dhoni, said the Indian team management wanted to replace Kohli with Rohit in the 2012 Perth Test.
Kohli, who made Test debut in 2011 against West Indies at Kingston, had failed to impress in the following five matches. He had scores of 4, 15, 0, 27, 30, 52, 63, 11, 0, 23, 9 and one DNB in 12 innings ahead of the second Test match of that series Down Under.
But Dhoni backed Kohli, and the rest is history, as we all know today. In the Perth Test, Kohli scored 44 and 75 runs. It served as the perfect appetiser for Kohli, who went on to post his maiden Test hundred in the next match at Adelaide.
"The selectors wanted to play Rohit Sharma instead of Kohli at Perth in 2012," said Sehwag. “I was vice-captain and Dhoni was leading the team, and we decided that we have to back Kohli. The rest is history."
Since then, Kohli has established himself as the backbone of Indian batting line-up, and in 2014 – during the tour of Australia, he took over the Test captaincy from retiring Dhoni.
Last week, Kohli played his fiftieth Test, leading India to an emphatic 246-run victory against England at Visakhapatnam. In these fifty matches, Kohli has scored 3891 runs with 14 hundreds and 13 fifties at an ever improving average of 48.03.
For the record, Rohit made his Test debut 2013 against West Indies at Eden Gardens, Kolkata.