Captaincy coincidence after 11 years

Kane Williamson

More than 11 years after Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson faced each other in the Under-19 World Cup semifinal in Kuala Lumpur, the two leading batsmen in the world -- in a happy coincidence of events -- run into each other in the men’s World Cup last-four match here on Tuesday as captains of their respective senior national teams.

It’s unlikely Kohli would dare to bowl to Williamson in their Tuesday’s match here but that’s exactly what he did in their U-19 match. And, believe it or not, he dismissed his opposite number as well with his wrong-footed medium pace bowling. Kohli claimed Fraser Colson in the next over in his figures of 2/27, and then chipped in with 43 to help India enter the final. This effort helped Kohli win the man of the match also, and the Indian skipper promised to remind Williamson of the match on Tuesday morning.

“I got Kane's wicket? Did I,” Kohli said with his surprise apparent. “I don't know if that can happen again now (laughter).”

Williamson was equally surprised to know his dismissal by Kohli.

“Oh dear! Tell me how,” he remarked. “He used to be an all-rounder I think back in the day but hasn't bowled as much recently.”

From teens with a desire to conquer the world to becoming ambassadors of the game, Kohli and Williamson have come a long way. They are the undisputed leaders of their respective teams and best batsmen across three formats.   

Both were pleasantly surprised to realise the coincidence and were quite chuffed to recall the day.    

“Actually, I'll remind Kane also, I'm sure he remembers; when we meet tomorrow, I'm going to remind him,” Kohli said, unable to concede his grin. “It is quite a nice thing to realise that 11 years after we are captaining our respective nations again in a Senior World Cup from U-19 (level). So yeah, we have spoken about it before. A lot of players from that whole World Cup, from our batch, from their batch, from other teams as well, made it to the national teams and are still playing, which is I think a great thing to see.”

Some of Kohli’s team-mates from that tournament that went on to play for India are Ravindra Jadeja, Manish Pandey, Saurabh Tiwary and Siddarth Kaul. While only Jadeja is part of the current team here, Williamson has Tim Southee and Trent Boult for company from his under-19 days. Corey Anderson is another player who represented New Zealand at the senior level.    

Kohli admitted neither he nor Williamson could have anticipated this day.

“I think it's a really nice memory and we'll both feel good about knowing that this is happening and no-one, neither me nor him, could have ever anticipated that one day this will happen, but yeah it is a really nice thing,” Kohli said.

Williamson echoed Kohli’s sentiments. “I actually hadn't thought about that at all so I guess that's kind of cool, isn't it, that a few years later, we're here again?” he noted. “Perhaps on a slightly different stage, but pretty special and a lot of respects to being able to lead your country out in a semifinal on the biggest stage. But I know, both sides without a doubt are looking forward to getting into the challenge and yeah, it's a really exciting opportunity.”

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