Aussie legend Ricky Ponting picks Hardik Pandya among his top five World T20I players

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Ricky Ponting Hardik Pandya

Former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting has picked five players he would select in his World T20I team. Notably, after his retirement, Ponting is closely associated with the game, especially the T20 format, as he is active in coaching dugouts and commentary boxes.

Speaking on the latest episode of The ICC Review, Ponting was quizzed to select the first five players he would choose for a World T20I team. The Tasmanian went with two world-class batters, one spinner, one all-rounder and a speedster.

The first on the list of Ponting’s top five T20 cricketers was Afghanistan superstar Rashid Khan. The Aussie said he went with Rashid for the latter’s superior consistency in the game and brilliant ability to take wickets.

“Five players is relatively easy, but trying to put them in order from one to five makes it a little bit more difficult.
I’ve actually gone with Rashid Khan at number one. I’ve got him at number one for his consistency, his wicket-taking ability over a long period of time, but also the fact that his economy rate in the T20 game is just outstanding,” said Ponting.

Next on Ponting’s list was Pakistan skipper and the number one T20I batter Babar Azam. Notably, the Pakistan star has shown utmost consistency in the shortest format. Babar has proved that he is an expert picker of gaps and can make his presence felt in a format dominated by big hitters.

“Babar Azam I’ll go for at number two, simply because the number one ranked batter in the T20 game for quite a while now and deservedly so. His record speaks for itself. He’s pretty much led the way,” added Ponting.

Ponting then went with superstar all-rounder Hardik Pandya on his list of five best T20 players. The Delhi Capitals (DC) head coach reckoned that Hardik had a phenomenal time in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022, and he has matured much more as a batter and is probably the best all-rounder in world cricket at the moment.

“On current form, it’s pretty hard to go past Hardik Pandya at number three. His IPL was outstanding. He’s back at bowling and 140kph, which he was doing four or five years ago. But his batting and his maturity while batting has come on in leaps and bounds. He understands the game better, and right now, he’s probably the best all-rounder in the world in T20 cricket and could potentially be in ODI cricket,” Ponting explained.

The Western Australian then went with another batter cum wicketkeeper, Jos Buttler. Ponting reckoned that Buttler has the ability to take the game away, and he also had a tremendous IPL 2022, where his batting went to another level.

“I had to pick Jos Buttler in there, actually. He’s got something that a lot of other players don’t have; the ability to take the game away in a short period of time. He was an out-and-out match-winner, as we saw with last year’s IPL, making three or four hundreds, which was quite remarkable. His batting went to another level in the last year or so,” elucidated Ponting.

After naming two batters, one spinner and an all-rounder, Ponting picked the pacer in the form of Indian star Jasprit Bumrah. Ponting termed Bumrah as the most complete bowler across the formats. The 47-year-old asserted that Bumrah has the ability to bowl with the new ball and also can deliver death overs with a mixture of slow balls and bouncers.

“Jasprit Bumrah in at number five. He is probably the most complete bowler across Test cricket, One Day cricket and T20 cricket in the world right now. Very good with the new ball when anyone decides to use him that way. India might think of giving him an over with the new ball in Australia (at the T20 World Cup) where it might swing, but what you can guarantee is a couple of great high quality death overs, which every team is looking for – someone that can execute slow balls and bouncers,” Ponting added further.

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