Ponting On Whether Kohli Can Catch Tendulkar
In the current edition of The ICC Review, Australia icon Ricky Ponting discussed Virat Kohli matching his score of 71 international hundreds before debating if the India star can now break Sachin Tendulkar’s intimidating record of 100 centuries.
The wait for Kohli’s 71st century was finally over at the Asia Cup after 1,020 days. When he hammered 122* off 61 balls against Afghanistan, he equaled Ponting’s record of 71 international tons.
When asked about his record, which is now the joint-second best international century tally, Ponting stated, “It was just a matter of time.”
Throughout Kohli’s dry spell, Ponting was outspoken in his support for the former India captain, even as several previous players advocated for his dismissal.
‘An all-time great’
Kohli had taken a month off from cricket before the Asia Cup, making careful not to touch the bat during that time, as he said in an interview with Star Sports. He also discussed his issues with mental health during a period of financial hardship.
Kohli ended the Asia Cup as the second-highest run-scorer, with 276 runs in five matches at a strike rate of 147.59, including two fifties and a hundred.
“It’s taken a little longer, the last couple of years because he’s been in that century-making drought, if you will, to get to me than I expected it would.”
“But look, he’s definitely one of the all-time greats, and he still has a long career ahead of him.” It was great to see him back in action.”
Should Kohli open?
The 71st century, on the other hand, has undoubtedly put India in a bind. While Kohli has spent most of his T20I career at No.3, where he has flourished, the century raises the issue of whether India should contemplate opening with him in the next ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022.
In the nine T20Is in which Kohli has started for India, he has scored 400 runs at an average of 57.14 and a strike rate of 161.29.
“The issue we’ll keep asking is – well, I’m sure the Indian selectors are asking the same question – does Virat scoring that 100 openings the batting present more of a problem than we thought?” So, what are we going to do now?
“So there are probably a few extra concerns that have arisen as a result of the fantastic 100 that he achieved.” He was also quoted as noting that he was shocked that the first 100 back was in a (T20I) game. He figured that was his only chance to get his first hundred in a couple of years.
Tribute to Anushka Sharma
Ponting also praised Kohli for acknowledging his wife, Anushka Sharma, after scoring a century.
After the game, Kohli was quoted as stating, “You see me standing here because one guy has put everything in perspective for me.” Anushka is her name. This hundred is for her as well as our young daughter Vamika.”
And Ponting said that he would want to see more recognition given to cricketers’ families for their work behind the scenes.
“It’s fantastic to have him back in the race.” It’s great to see him returning with a smile. You know what I mean?” Ponting stated.
“He was really thrilled, and I assume (he’s) relieved the game was over.” He certainly talked favorably of his wife’s effect on the final few years of his life, which is also extremely pleasant to hear. A lot of that goes unstated, particularly in men’s sports.
“Just the influence your family and close friends have on you throughout your career. So it’s fantastic to hear that, but it’s also nice to have Virat back in the running.”
Can Kohli surpass Tendulkar?
After matching Ponting, there is now just one name on the list of most tons above Kohli – Tendulkar, who has 100 hundred.
The focus has now shifted back to Tendulkar’s total, and if Kohli can find a late-career surge to catch up.
Ponting isn’t so convinced he’ll make it.
“If you’d asked me three years ago, I’d have answered sure,” Ponting remarked when asked if he could match Tendulkar’s total. “But the fact that it has slowed as much as it has… yeah, I still think it’s doable for him, there’s no doubt about it.”
“I still believe he has a couple of years ahead of him, but I guess being 30 international hundreds behind is a lot.” That amounts to five or six Test hundreds every year for the next three or four years. Throw in a few one-dayers and maybe a T20 or two on top of that.
“Look, I’ll never say never with Virat because you know how hungry he is and how eager for the success he is once he starts on a run.” That’s for sure, I’ll never say never.”
Should Kohli take another break?
The T20 World Cup begins in less than a month, but India has a lot of cricket to play before then.
Before going to Australia, they have two white-ball assignments: three ODIs and three T20Is against South Africa, and a three-match T20I series against Australia.
Kohli has been nominated to both T20I teams, but given how well a break has helped him recently, Ponting says Kohli must decide if he needs another one before the World Cup.
“Yes, it’s a pretty interesting question, and it’s probably one that only he can answer,” Ponting replied. “It’ll just rely on how he feels psychologically again.”
“When you’re playing, you don’t realize how weary you are until you take a step back, because you’re always tricking yourself and persuading yourself that you’re physically and psychologically perfect.
“Sometimes you’re not even close. And I believe Virat has stated as well that he didn’t realize how dire of a situation he was in until he got that lengthy rest.
“If he continues to score runs, I’m confident he’ll play in the next series. If he does that well and establishes himself as a player, I believe he will want to continue playing. He’d want to maintain that momentum.
“However, if he does go through a lean spell again, it’ll probably be in his and India’s best interests to try to freshen him up psychologically as much as possible before the World Cup.”