Ponting predicts bigger things for Kohli at World Cup

Kolkata, Nov 6 (Representative) India star Virat Kohli may raise his game even further during the remainder of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup now that he has equalled Sachin Tendulkar’s record for most ODI hundreds, according to Australia great Ricky Ponting. Kohli equalled Tendulkar’s record of 49 ODI centuries with a brilliant individual ton against South Africa on his 35th birthday on Sunday, and the India dynamo now has a total of 543 runs at this edition of the World Cup at an imposing average of 108.60. But Ponting has predicted even bigger things to come for Kohli at the World Cup, with the former Australia captain expecting the India right-hander will play with more freedom now that he hasdrawn level with Tendulkar. “That might be a bit of a monkey off his back,” Ponting said of Kohli’s innings when speaking with ICC on the latest episode of Digital Daily. “I think he has been working extra hard to equal Sachin’s record,” he said.

“That’s done now and it has happened at a really good time at the tournament for him,” Ponting said. “One more game to go and then they head into the semi-finals,” he said. “It was an almost perfect day for Virat and a great day for India,” Ponting said. The century against South Africa was Kohli’s second of the tournament and fourth overall in all 50-over World Cups, and only further strengthens his case of being one of the greatest players of modern times. But Ponting thinks Kohli has held that mantle for some time now and should be considered the best batter of all time. “There is no doubt he is the absolute best and I have said that for a long time,” Ponting noted. “He didn’t need to equal Sachin’s record, he doesn’t need to break the record,” Ponting said. “If you look at his overall batting record it is incredible,” he said. “To think that he got 49 ODI hundreds and equalled Sachin and in 175 less innings is unbelievable,” Ponting said. While Kohli and his fellow batters will get much of the plaudits for India’s unbeaten run at the World Cup, Ponting made note of the strong impact their bowlers have had in many of their resounding victories.

South Africa’s star-studded batting line-up were skittled for just 83 on Sunday and only two teams have managed to bat out their 50 overs against India through their first eight games of the tournament. India now have three players among the top 10 wicket-takers at the tournament – Mohammad Shami (16), Jasprit Bumrah (15) and Ravindra Jadeja (14) – and Ponting believes opposition teams have their work ahead trying to quell the powerful bowling group. “What we have seen in this World Cup so far, is that India’s bowling attack has clearly been the best,” Ponting noted. “Opposition teams are going to have to put a lot of analysis into how they play Bumrah, how they are going to play (Mohammed) Siraj, as they need to get on top of these guys early,” he said. “Because if they don’t, their spinners will come and get you in the middle of the game,” Ponting added.