Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli (AFP Photo)

Australia legend Ricky Ponting reckons Virat Kohli‘s form will be crucial to India’s chances at the upcoming ICC World Cup in England.

Ponting himself won three World Cup titles – twice as captain and will be with the Australian team as an assistant coach at the event this time around. However, before that he will be in India as the coach of the rechristened Delhi Capitals for the Indian Premier League 2019.

Responding to a query as to who the better batsman is – Kohli or Sachin Tendulkar, Ponting said it’s a question which can be best answered once the current India captain has finished his career.

“I don’t think we can get to the conclusion till Virat’s career is over,” Ponting told The Times of India. “Only then will we have a clearer picture. Sachin is a legend. Yes, you can say Virat is piling up runs. His Test average is more than 50 (53.76). But Sachin maintained that (average) in 200 Tests. Virat’s ODI record, though, is unbelievable. That’s why I feel India are a very dangerous side. If Virat has a good World Cup, India will win.”

Ponting was known for his aggressive attitude during his playing days and he sees a lot of similarity between him and Kohli.

“I can relate to Virat because when I watch him play, I think a lot of his attitude is similar to mine. On the field, he is aggressive, wears his heart on his sleeve, (though) his body language can get out of control sometimes. That is like me… I was the same. When you are out there, competing, in the heat of battle, things happen. Yeah, I can see a bit of myself in Virat, especially on the field, not so much on the batting side of things. We are probably naturally aggressive people and that comes across in the way we bat,” he said.

IPL’s Delhi-based franchise underwent an overhaul for the current season including a change in name. The team, despite boasting of big names, has flattered to deceive over the years but Ponting reckons they have a bunch of players who can trigger a turnaround.

“This year we have been able to put together a good team. Hopefully, we don’t have the injury issues we had at the start of last season. (Chris) Morris and (Kagiso) Rabada didn’t play any role last year, so if they come in fit and healthy, along with our Indian top-order batting of Shreyas (Iyer), Prithvi (Shaw), Shikhar (Dhawan) and Rishabh (Pant), certainly our team matches up names-wise with any other team.

He added, “This year we’ve got Shikhar Dhawan. We needed that really good Indian top-order batsman who averages about 450 runs a season for four-five years. That allows us to play a majority of foreign bowlers. The biggest challenge is to set down a culture: how you will train and prepare. It’s hard to do that when most of the overseas players arrive late because of international commitments.”