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Australia great Ricky Ponting has once again backed out-of-form batter Virat Kohli but suggested that India should consider a change to their batting order should they qualify for the ICC World Test Championship Final at The Oval in June.
Kohli has managed just 111 runs from five innings during the ongoing Border-Gavaskar against Australia and will once again come up against the same opposition should India clinch the final spot in the World Test Championship decider with a victory in the fourth Test in Ahmedabad this week. Ponting discussed Kohli’s current woes with the bat with host Sanjana Ganesan on the latest episode of The ICC Review.
“I’m not looking at anybody’s form in this Test series because, for a batsman, it has just been an absolute, it’s been a nightmare. For Virat, I’ve said it before I say it over and over. Champion players always find a way, and yes, it might seem like he’s in a bit of a drought at the moment and he might not be scoring the runs that we all expect him to score,” Ponting said.
“And certainly, you know, he’s a realist as well. And we all know as batsmen, when you’re struggling and not scoring runs, you don’t need anybody else to tell you. You’re pretty aware of it yourself. But no, I’m every day of the week putting my hand up and not even showing any sort of concern for Virat Kohli. Because I know he will bounce back,” he added.
Ponting knows conditions in England in June will be vastly different to what the teams are currently facing in the sub-continent and believes that India should consider a change to their batting order should they reach the World Test Championship final.
Experienced right-hander KL Rahul was recently dropped for Shubman Gill at the top of India’s batting order, but Ponting thinks there is a way that both players can feature at The Oval.
Rahul has scored two of his seven Test centuries in England – including an impressive 149 at The Oval back in 2018 – and Ponting thinks the 30-year-old could be an option to be utilised in India’s middle-order.
“With someone like KL Rahul having gone out of this side and Shubman Gill having come in, both these guys have played a bit of Test match cricket and you could potentially have both of those guys in the same team. Maybe Shubman could start at the top and KL could potentially move down into the middle order because he’s played cricket in those (English) conditions before, albeit at the top of the order,” Ponting suggested.
Ponting urged both India and Australia to keep the English conditions in mind while selecting the best XI that can prosper during the one-off Test showpiece.
“Because it’s just a one-off Test match, it will be really important to pick the team that you think is going to have the most success in those conditions. But one thing we know about the UK is that the ball swings for long periods of time during the day. And if the overhead conditions are suitable, then the ball tends to swing right the way through an inning,” Ponting noted.
The former Aussie captain talked about the venue of the World Test Championships final and suggested that the teams playing in the final must analyze the conditions and decide the playing eleven according to it given the final will be a one-off affair.
“The Oval can be a really, really good place to bat as long as the sun is out, it’s probably as good a wicket as any in the UK. So I think that’s what it would come down to for India. It would just come down to assessing the conditions and then maybe forgetting about this last series that’s just been played. The conditions that we’re seeing here (in India) are quite extreme. If it was Australia and India, they would both look at the conditions and pick the team that they think was best to win that one-off game,” Ponting mentioned.