MS Dhoni huge plus for Virat Kohli at the World Cup: Ricky Ponting

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Having won the World Cup three times, twice as a skipper, Ricky Ponting pretty well knows how to crack the code and identify men who will get the job done. Perhaps that’s why when everyone is focusing big time on Virat Kohli while talking about India’s chances in England this summer, ‘Punter’ Ponting puts his bet on a man who’s been there, done that.

“It is a huge plus for Virat to have someone like MS Dhoni around for the World Cup. He brings in a lot of experience, a lot of knowledge about the game. He has been there before, been through the World Cups and was the captain of the World Cup-winning team,” Ponting told India Today in an interview.

He added: “It is nice to have someone like that in your corner. But I think not as much for the captaincy side of the thing for Virat, the match-winning ability of Dhoni is somewhat overlooked to a certain degree. I think he always controls the middle of the innings with the bat, particularly during the run chases. I think he was the main reason (Dhoni not playing) why Australia were able to get back on the top during the last series,” Ponting added.

India have the team to succeed in English conditions: Ponting

Having listed a major reason for his team’s sensational turnaround series win, the former Australia skipper goes on to list India as the favourites to win the big tournament in a few months from now, with only the No. 4 slot in batting order being one major concern.

“There is no doubt about the quality of the Indian team. We have seen it on display for a number of years now. I think they have got so many, really good, match-winning players starting with someone like Rohit Sharma at the top who has made three or four double hundreds in one-day cricket. They’ve got so much talent available and will do really well in the English conditions as well. They will be one of the favourite teams going in,” Ponting added.

“The only concern that they have got right now is the No 4 batting spot. They have been tinkering with it for the last few weeks. I think Australia, England and India will be the top three favourite teams in this World Cup. I will be surprised if the winner comes outside of those three teams,” Ponting said.

With IPL running straight into the World Cup, Ponting, currently the head coach of Delhi Capitals team in the IPL, knows well that some players will be too eager to seal their spots in their respective national teams after coming good in the tournament.

“Absolutely, the Indian players will definitely have an eye on playing well here as far as the selection for the World Cup goes. There is a very interesting scenario with Steve Smith and David Warner as well. They are coming back to the top level cricket without having played too much of late. They need to get a lot of runs under their belt in the IPL to go to the World Cup full of confidence and with their games intact. It is an unusual scenario that we have with such a big tournament like the IPL that pretty much runs straight into the World Cup. If you are a cricket lover or a coach or someone involved in the World Cup, it is a really exciting time as well.

Ponting hopeful of strong show from Australia

After what promises to be another hectic season for him at the Daredevils, Ponting will head to England and join the Australian team as Justin Langer’s assistant during the World Cup. The recent win against India has brought a huge smile back on his face.

“I am very happy because I know how hard everyone in Australian cricket has been working to try and turn the fortunes around. The Test series against India didn’t go to the plan, there was very soft, easy wins against the Lankans and the ODI series against India at home didn’t go as per the plan either,” Ponting said.

“Having Smith and Warner back in the side and having Mitchell Starc rested and Josh Hazlewood out has given a lot of opportunity to many younger players to show the world what they are capable of. Whatever has happened in the last couple of weeks here probably shows the depth of the Australian cricket and that there are really good players in Australian cricket still that we haven’t seen for last couple of years. Handscomb, Richardson, Zampa we haven’t seen a lot of, Khwaja has been brilliant of late, the depth around them is really good.”

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