He spoke about this during the latest episode of ICC Review on Monday. After Virat finally scored his much-anticipated 71st international ton, talks and questions about the star surpassing the all-time great Tendulkar in the tally of centuries have picked up once again.
Ponting is not so sure if Virat can get there, but still does not rule it out from happening.
“If you would have asked me three years ago, I would have said yes. But the fact that it has slowed down as much as it did… yeah, I still think that it is possible for him, there is no doubt. I still think he has got a number of years ahead of him, but I guess to still be 30 international hundreds behind, that’s a lot,” he said.
That is five or six Test hundreds a year maybe for the next three or four years. If you throw a couple of one-day ones, maybe the odd T20 ones on top of it. Look, I will never say never with Virat, because you know once he gets on a bit of a roll, you know how hungry he is and how keen for the success he is. I will never say never that’s for sure,” he added.
After a wait of 1,020 days, Virat Kohli finally scored a century against Afghanistan at the recently-concluded Asia Cup 2022. He ended up smashing 122* off just 61 balls and equalled Ponting’s tally of 71 tons. He returned to the sport after a month-long break and ended up as the second highest scorer in the tournament with 276 runs in five innings, consisting of one century and two fifties.
Ponting was vocal in his support for Virat even when many called for him to be dropped and even now, he has a lot of positives to say about the star Indian batter. He is happy that Virat is among the runs.
Asked about his thoughts on Virat joining Ponting as the joint-second highest international century scorer, Ponting said, “It was only a matter of time. It has (the century) taken a bit longer, the last couple of years because he has been in that century-making drought if you like, it has taken a bit longer to get to me than I thought it was going to.”
“But look, he is obviously one of the all-time greats and there is still a long time to go in his career. It was good to see him back in the runs,” he added.
But Kohli’s 71st century, which came while opening the batting has put India in a dilemma. Kohli has batted and maintained consistency as a number 3 player in the batting order. But his ton poses the question if he should open for Team India as the ICC T20 World Cup approaches.
Kohli has statistics to back this question. In nine T20I matches where he has opened for India, 400 runs have come out of Virat’s bat at an average of 57.14 and a great strike rate of 161.29.
“The question we are going to keep asking is – well I am sure, the Indian selectors are asking the same question – does that create more of a problem than we thought with Virat getting that 100 opening the batting? What are we going to do now going into the World Cup?” Ponting said.
“So there are a few other questions that are probably raised on the back of that magnificent 100 that he made. He was even on record saying that he was surprised himself that the first 100 back was actually in a (T20I) game. He thought that that would be the last option he would have to score his first hundred in a couple of years,” said Ponting about this matter.
In all, Ponting is happy that the smile is back on Kohli’s face after his century and how he is talking about his wife and Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma’s influence on the batter during his lean patch.
“It is great to see him back in the runs. Great to see him back with a smile on his face. That’s the thing you know?. He was so happy, and I guess (he’s) relieved at the end of that game. He obviously spoke very fondly about his wife’s influence on the last couple of years of his life as well, which is also very nice to hear,” he said.
“A lot of that stuff goes unspoken about, in men’s sport in particular. Just the impact that your family and your very close ones have on you through your career. So it is nice to hear that but also great to see Virat back in the runs again,” he added.
On Virat taking another break ahead of the T20 World Cup, Ponting feels that only the batter can answer this question depending on how he feels mentally.
“Yes, that is a really good question and that is probably a question only he could answer. It is just going to depend on how he is feeling mentally again. When you are playing, you do not ever realise how tired you are till you do take a step back, because you are always bluffing yourself and convincing yourself that you are 100 per cent right physically and mentally,” he said.
“Sometimes you are nowhere near that. And I think Virat has actually come out and said that as well that, he just did not realise sort of how bad a space he was in until he got that extended break. If he keeps scoring runs now, I am sure he will play the next series. If he plays that and plays well and starts getting on a bit of a role, I think he will want to keep playing. He would want to keep that momentum going.”
“But if he does have a bit of a lean patch again, it will probably be in his interest and India’s interest to try and freshen him up mentally as much as they can going into the World Cup,” he concluded.
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