• Friday, May 24, 2024


Ricky Ponting backs Kohli & these 2 players as key to India’s hopes in WTC final vs Australia

India and Australia will lock horns for the World Test Championship crown at The Oval starting June 7.

India batter Virat Kohli celebrates his century during day two of the First Specsavers Test Match between England and India at Edgbaston on August 2, 2018 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting feels while Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara will be key to India’s hopes in the upcoming World Test Championship (WTC) final against Australia at The Oval starting June 7, he has also backed Shubman Gill to rise to the occasion.

Pujara, who has scored five tons and more than 2,000 runs in the longer format against Australia, can turn to that record to play a critical role in the all-important final, feels Ponting, who has been Australia’s most successful Test captain.

The No.3 batter in India’s Test XI, who averages more than 50 against the Australians, has also been playing in England for a while now and would be well aware of the conditions during the big clash.

Kohli, who also has a commendable Test record against Australia (eight hundreds, 1,979 runs at an average of 48 plus), is another key player for India. The ace batter was in fine touch during the just concluded Indian Premier League and scored his career-best score of 186 against the Australians the last time he batted against them in Ahmedabad in March.

“The Australian team will be talking about Virat, no doubt about it, and they’ll be talking about Pujara. They’re the two,” Ponting said on The ICC Review.

“Pujara has been a thorn in their side a lot in the past, and in Australia, and this wicket will potentially be a lot more like an Australian pitch. They know that they’ll have to get him early.

“They also know that Virat over the last few weeks is probably just about back to his absolute best, albeit in T20 cricket.

“He told me that the feeling he’s getting right now is that he’s almost back to his best, and that’s an ominous warning for the Australians going into a one-off game.”

While Ponting also backed India captain Rohit Sharma as a batter that the Asian side will need to influence the high-profile final, he also backed Gill to make an impact.

Gill, who played the last two Tests against Australia at home, scored 128 in the game against Ahmedabad to strengthen his claim for a spot in the final.

The 23-year-old, who was also in a great form in the IPL this year and finished as the most valuable player with nearly 900 runs, made his Test debut against Australia in their den in 2020 and delivered an impressive performance at an average of nearly 52. Yet he is yet to become a regular pick in India’s Test XI.

But with KL Rahul getting ruled out of the WTC final due to injury, it could be Gill’s chance to shine.

Calling Gill a “terrific young guy”, Ponting said, “He’s got that bit of attitude about him as well. He’s got a bit of swagger. He has some serious class.

“That sort of front foot pull shot that he plays against the fast bowlers will be a shot that he’ll probably need against this Australian attack.”

India, who lost the inaugural WTC final to New Zealand in 2021 by eight wickets, will have a bigger concern over their bowling, especially with Jasprit Bumrah remaining out of action for a prolonged period due to injury.

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