By Niall Anderson in Manchester

Virat Kohli remembers exactly where he was when he realised that Kane Williamson was going to become one of New Zealand's greatest batsmen.

As an 18-year-old on a tour of New Zealand, Kohli was standing in the slips on a summer's day in 2007, when it struck him.

Williamson, batting for New Zealand's Under-19 in their Youth Test series against their Indian age-group counterparts, rocked back onto his back foot - a move fine-tuned and repeated with excellence in the 12 years since - and left Kohli wide-eyed.

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"He played a shot off one of our fast bowlers, who was quick, off the back foot and I remember standing in slips and telling guys standing at slip, 'I have never seen anyone play a shot like that'," Kohli recalled on the eve of his side's World Cup semifinal against the Black Caps.

"He was special.

"He was always the standout player and you could see when we played New Zealand in New Zealand on that Under-19 tour and the [Under-19] World Cup again he was quite special for them. So we always knew he has the special ability to go all the way and now he's controlling the tempo of the game for New Zealand every game that he plays - he's contributing so well."

Kane Williamson playing in the Youth Test for New Zealand U-19 against India U-19. Photo / Photosport
Kane Williamson playing in the Youth Test for New Zealand U-19 against India U-19. Photo / Photosport

The pair went on to go head-to-head as captains in the Under-19 World Cup semifinal a year later – India winning by three wickets – and now, 11 years on from that clash, the pair meet again, captaining their respective sides in a semifinal on the world's biggest stage.

In between those two dates, the duo have combined for 33,840 international runs and 99 centuries, both making claims to be their country's greatest-ever batsman, and Kohli – good friends with Williamson – has fond memories of their rise through the ranks.

"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.

"I'll remind Kane also, I'm sure he remembers. When we meet I'm going to remind him."

Young Virat Kohli and young Kane Williamson in old-school photoshoots. Photos / Getty and Photosport
Young Virat Kohli and young Kane Williamson in old-school photoshoots. Photos / Getty and Photosport

Kohli, who was surprised to learn that he dismissed Williamson during their age-group Cup semifinal – "I don't know if that can happen again now," he laughed – pinpointed Williamson and Ross Taylor as the key men his side have to dismiss tonight to move into the World Cup final.

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"[Kane's] always been the main guy for them, along with Ross, who has performed really consistently as well. Those two guys have shared the load so far and a lot will depend on them obviously because they have been playing well.

"From our team's point of view, getting both of them early will be crucial because we know how strong they can be together in a partnership."

The Alternative Commentary Collective are podcasting their way through the World Cup. Known for their unconventional sports analysis and off-kilter banter, the ACC have come to ask the tough questions. Here's the latest episode of 'The Agenda':
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT