Sometimes it’s perplexing how things reach a fitting destination in cricket. 11 years ago, young Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson were leaders of their respective teams during the semi-final of the Under-19 World Cup in Malaysia. They were the two brightest hopes of their countries – entrusted with the responsibility of ushering India and New Zealand into a new era in the years to come. ALSO READ: India’s bossing of league stage a stern warning for New Zealand

It’s taken more than a decade, but the Kohli-Williamson battle is once again set to catch eyeballs. It’s not a contest between the two most complete batsmen of today’s generation, but a showdown with a slice of history up for grabs. From that historic evening in Kuala Lumpur, on Tuesday, Kohli and Williamson will lead their respective teams in the biggest showpiece event – the semi-final of a 50-over World Cup. ALSO READ: Winner take all – India, New Zealand battle for a date at World Cup final

Let’s roll back the years. In 2008, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni formed the backbone of India’s batting, while New Zealand were still relying on the likes of Jesse Ryder, Jamie How, Peter Fulton and Brendon McCullum. Kohli and Williamson had rather quiet debuts but as the years passed, both escalated quickly en route to becoming the world’s finest batsmen. As their statures grew, so did the teams’ in terms of achievements. By 2016, Kohli and Williamson were right there. In fact, they, along with Steve Smith and Joe Root were the next big batting prospects of world cricket.

While Williamson was the more consistent of the two initially, Kohli bridged the gap and eventually reached a level where there is a gulf between him and the rest of the batsmen. Brian Lara would agree. Williamson though comes the closest to him. In fact, this World Cup, Williamson has two match-winning centuries and an unbeaten fifty as compared to Kohli’s five 50-plus scores.

The similarities don’t end there. Kohli and Williamson are the most effective No. 3 in ODIs. Kohli averages an impressive 63.34 with 9185 runs at that slot but Williamson isn’t too far behind at 51.29 with a tally of 5233. Both have emerged as the batting pillars of their respective sides. But while India’s dependency on Kohli has been slightly less of late due to Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan scoring consistently at the top, Williamson has mostly had to grind it out himself, with some support from Ross Taylor.

Kohli and Williamson aren’t the only players from that squad to feature in the semi-final World Cup. Ravindra JadejaTrent Boult and Tim Southee were also part of the Class of 2008.