When Virat Kohli went to a Lahore market and enjoyed home-cooked Pakistani food

Did you know? Virat Kohli has never played international cricket in Pakistan for the senior Indian team

By Team KT

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Virat Kohli was only 17 when he went to Pakistan with the Indian under 19 team. — X
Virat Kohli was only 17 when he went to Pakistan with the Indian under 19 team. — X

Published: Fri 20 Oct 2023, 1:18 AM

Virat Kohli is not just one of the greatest batsmen of all time, he is a global superstar and Asia’s original social media king.

Besides having created numerous batting records, Kohli has also set records on the internet, the most famous of which was when he became the only Asian to attract over 50 million followers on three of the principal social platforms — Instagram (225m), Facebook (50m) and Twitter (52m).

So even as he was scoring his 48th century in ODI cricket during the World Cup match against Bangladesh on Thursday, an old video of Kohli's visit to Pakistan in 2006 was breaking the net.

The unedited video, posted by Pakistani cricket fan Haris Haroon, revealed Kohli’s huge popularity in the country.

Clips of Kohli eating, drinking tea and shopping in Lahore for Pakistan’s famous salwar kameez sets for his family and friends was going viral.

The year was 2006 and the video depicted a baby-faced 17-year-old Kohli who was touring Pakistan as a member of India’s under-19 squad under the captaincy of Piyush Chawla.

The Indians played a two-match Test series and four-match ODI series, which they won against the home team.

Apart from Lahore, the team also visited Peshawar and Sheikhupura during the tour.

Remarkably, that was the only time Kohli played cricket in Pakistan as India have not played bilateral series against their big rivals after the star batter made his debut for the senior Indian team in 2008.

It's a big tragedy as greats of Indian cricket from different eras — Vinoo Mankad, Polly Umrigar, Bishan Bedi, Gundappa Viswanath, Sunil Gavaskar, Dilip Vengsarkar, Kapil Dev, Mohammad Azharuddin, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, Anil Kumble, VVS Laxman, Harbhajan Singh, Virender Sehwag, and Yuvraj Singh — have all played in Pakistan.

But Kohli and Rohit Sharma's generation have been deprived of a chance to play in Pakistan due to the political tensions between the two countries.

Against this backdrop, Haroon’s Instagram post has warmed the hearts of all cricket fans as they saw rare footage of Kohli enjoying his time in Pakistan along with his India under 19 teammates.

Haroon's father, Mohammed Haroon, was the liaison officer of the Indian under 19 team during that 2006 cricket series in Pakistan.

That helped Haroon get access to Kohli and the Indian team.

He narrates a heart-warming anecdote of how his mother served home-cooked food for Kohli, Chawla, Ishant Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja.

“Some of them were vegetarian, but my Mum somehow managed to make something for them,” he said.

Haroon, who was only 12-years-old at the time, also revealed that he was a big fan of Kohli’s hair-style.

“He had these spikes in his hair which I thought looked great,” he said.

"They team enjoyed coming to our home and having a homely meal made by my Mum, because it was different from what the restaurants severed.”

It is not surprising that Haroon’s video has now gone viral.

Before Kohli, 34, retires from the game, every true fan will hope for better relations between the two countries to allow the modern legend to do what his idols did — play international cricket in Pakistan.


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