The South African all-rounder Pieter Malan is taking each and every opportunity to remind his friends about the time he got the wicket of one of the best batsmen in the world, despite the fact that it happened a decade ago. In the final of the 2008 ICC Under-19 World Cup, held at Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), India and South Africa locked horns with each other. Virat Kohli made his way to 19 before Malan got the India skipper with his medium-pacers.
India went on to win by 12 runs, and Kohli went on become the sport’s biggest star. On the other hand, Malan did not quite live up to the potential that he showed in the junior circuit. The all-rounder has competed in 128 first-class fixtures but has yet to earn a South Africa call-up.
Pieter smiles when asked about sending Kohli back to the pavilion all those years ago. He replied, “Kohli hit me over cover for a six at the start of my spell. Then I took a bit of pace off, and he got out at the point to a really good catch (by Sybrand Engelbrecht). I tell everybody that I once got Kohli out. Everybody who knows me knows that I got him out in 2008.”
Malan also talked about the special talents of the Indian team then, he said, “Even back then, I had never seen anyone play spin as well as Kohli did. He hit bowlers effortlessly, wherever he wanted to. We knew there was something special in him. The Indian spinners (Jadeja and Iqbal Abdulla) were a big step up from the spinners we faced in South Africa.”
The all-rounder from the rainbow nation also opened the innings for the South Africa ‘A’ squad — stated that his own cricketing journey did not progress as smoothly as some of the others. Two years ago, he even considered quitting the sport to take up a sales job.
Describing his career further, Malan said,“There were some dark times, especially when I saw some of my under-19 teammates – like Rilee Rossouw and Wayne Parnell – go on to play international cricket. I realised that I needed to focus on myself, and not on others. Everyone has his own path. I took it easy after I was picked for the U-19 World Cup. Cricket has a way teaching you some tough lessons if you take things lightly. I had to really knuckle down and rebuild.”