U19 Cricket World Cup Rivalries: Virat Kohli & Kane Williamson — from teenage stars to legends who earned their stripes U19 CWC Rivalries

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From facing each other in the ICC Under19 Cricket World Cup in Malaysia in 2008 to becoming national team captains, the journeys of Kane Williamson and Virat Kohli will serve as inspirations for the next generation of cricketers.

The ICC U19 Cricket World Cup begins on 14 January in West Indies. Click here for details.

The captains of the first ICC World Test Championship final, Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson shared a very common path to the top brass of cricketers in the modern era. Captains of their respective sides in the 2008 Under19 World Cup, the duo first earned a place in the hearts of fans with their batting, which was aesthetically charming and technically textbook. 

Kohli went on to lead India to the title in Malaysia in that tournament, with Williamson's team losing to Kohli's in the semi-finals. Notably, the New Zealand captain was dismissed by Kohli, stumped down the leg side, in the crucial knockout game.

Kohli was out caught by Williamson for 43 in the run chase, which India aced by three wickets (D/L method) – it was the start of an intense on-field rivalry and the strong off-field camaraderie that we see today.

Video cwc19 19 Jun 21
The Kane-Kohli friendship | WTC21 Final | Ind v NZ

Kohli's journey to the top

Since making his national team debut months after the 2008 tournament, Kohli established himself first in the ODI side, a format he would go on to be incredibly good at. In 2012, Kohli won the ICC Men's ODI Cricketer of the Year award – he would go on to win it in 2017 and 2018 too.

A Test debut followed soon after the 2011 tournament, and within four years of playing the format, Kohli had racked up nine Test hundreds and captained the side, notably making twin hundreds on his Test captaincy debut in Adelaide in 2014, an effort that nearly led India to a fantastic win Down Under.

After a decade in international cricket, Kohli has 70 international hundreds aside from winning the prestigious ICC Men's Cricketer of the Year awards in 2017 and 2018. Under him, India recorded their first-ever series triumph in Australia in 2019. They also became one of the most successful Test teams of the era with an incredible record that sees them sit at the top of the Test team rankings. 

Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson – an on-field rivarly, an off-field friendship
Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson – an on-field rivarly, an off-field friendship

Kane Williamson puts New Zealand at the top of the world

Williamson will be remembered as the skipper that first lifted the ICC World Test Championship, when New Zealand beat India in the finals of the tournament in June 2021 at Lord's at the end of a two-year cycle. 

His journey from New Zealand's U19 captain to national team skipper will serve as an inspiration to many. A century on Test debut in India, one of the toughest places to tour, confirmed that the young Williamson was ready for top-flight cricket. Aside from racking up over 15,000 international runs and winning the WTC title in 2021, Williamson led New Zealand to the ODI World Cup final in 2019 and the T20 World Cup final in 2021.  

Under him, New Zealand became a formidable Test side, racking up nine successive series wins at home, a streak that stretches back to December 2017.

Video cwc19 25 Jun 21
The day New Zealand became the WTC21 Champions

Leader of men

If there's anything to learn from the journeys of two of world cricket's greatest names today, it is their sheer dedication and love for the sport. Their incredible rise from young, talented U19 rookies to national team captains will inspire the several U19 players that'll take the field in the latest edition of the ICC Under19 Cricket World Cup in the Caribbean, starting January 14, 2022.

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