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Pant’s best position, the key to Kohli’s revival – Ricky Ponting on India’s T20 World Cup plans

The ICC Review

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What’s Rishabh Pant’s best role in India’s T20I side? What’s ailing Virat Kohli? Can Kuldeep Yadav reignite his international career?

In the latest episode of The ICC Review, Australia legend Ricky Ponting shared his thoughts on some of the key talking points for India, with an eye on the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 later this year.

How should India utilise Rishabh Pant?

Pant offers a rare mixture of dynamism and daring that makes him an asset in India’s T20I side, but there’s always been debate surrounding his best position in a batting line-up.

Pant has played across various batting positions in the IPL, but in the most recent edition, Ponting deployed his captain at No.4 or 5, depending on the match situation. Pant scored 340 runs at a strike-rate of over 151 and was the second-highest scorer for the side after opener David Warner.

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Ricky Ponting on Rishabh Pant's best batting position | The ICC Review

Ponting believes India should utilise him similarly. “I reckon they’ll have him as a floater,” he told Isa Guha in The ICC Review.

“They’ll have listed (him) at five in the batting line-up. But in certain situations, if they get to a stage where there are seven-eight overs to go and they’re one or two down, they’ll look to sending him in and giving him as much time as they can. He’s that dynamic, and that explosive. That’s certainly the way that I’ll try and use him.

“He’s wonderful … talk about great people. He’s just an outstanding young man that’s got the world at his feet. He’ll be exceptionally dangerous for India, especially on the wickets we’ll prepare in Australia (for the T20 World Cup) – good, fast, flat, bouncy wickets. He’ll be one of the players to watch at the tournament for sure.”

Should Dinesh Karthik make India’s T20WC squad?

Dinesh Karthik has found a second wind and is soaring. He was phenomenal for Royal Challengers Bangalore this season, taking on the bowlers in the death.

Karthik scored 330 runs at a strike-rate of more than 183, and the returns have helped him earn an India call-up for the five-match series against South Africa.

The 37-year-old’s form has raised calls for him to be included in India’s T20 World Cup squad, and Ponting is all for it.

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Should Dinesh Karthik make India’s T20WC squad? | The ICC Review

“I would have him, and I’d have him in at that five or six role,” he said. “The way that he finished games for RCB this year, he took his game to another level.

“When you look at the IPL, you want your better players to maybe be able to win two or three, maybe four games through the season. If you can get that out of them, it’s probably going to be a really good return. But Dinesh probably had a bigger impact on a lot of the games than most of the other RCB players did this year.

“Virat (Kohli) having the year he’s had, Maxi (Glenn Maxwell) started the tournament really well … but DK was the one. And Faf too I guess, who kept the RCB bandwagon rolling. I’d be surprised if he’s not in there (India) line-up somewhere.”

What’s ailing Virat Kohli?

It’s an issue that’s consumed Indian cricket for the best part of two years. Former captain Kohli’s struggles with the bat have been well-documented and the most recent of his 70 international centuries came in November 2019.

Since then, Kohli has played 63 internationals and scored 2,478 runs at an average of just over 37. Ponting believes a break would serve him well.

“It (poor form) is going to happen to everyone at some stage. Virat’s probably had a 10 or 12-year run where hasn’t had many down times,” said Ponting.

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What's ailing Virat Kohli? | The ICC Review

“But there was a lot of talk and conjecture around the IPL about how tired and burnt out he might be. That’s for him to work out and assess and find ways to improve, whether it’s a technical thing or a mental thing.

“I’m sure, being the absolute professional that he is, that he’ll work it out and work it out pretty quickly.

“One thing I do know from experience is that quite often you bluff yourself as a player that you’re not actually tired, that you’re not physically or mentally tired. You always find a way to get yourself up for training, you always find a way to get yourself up for game. It’s not until you actually stop and have a couple of days do you realise how tired and fatigued you are.

“So that might be exactly where Virat Kohli is at now, but I’m pretty sure he won’t stay down for too long.”

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On camera: Virat Kohli’s last day as T20I captain

Can Kuldeep Yadav revive his India career?

Not too long ago, Kuldeep Yadav was one part of India’s dynamic spin duo – the other being Yuzvendra Chahal – mystifying batters the world over. 

However, Kuldeep’s form dipped over the last two years, and he has looked a shadow of the player he was. That is until this IPL season, when he was snapped up by Ponting’s Delhi Capitals side.

Kuldeep was Delhi’s top wicket-taker with 21 scalps in 13 matches – it was a return that put him in the top five of the wicket charts for IPL 2022. 

Ponting believes he can replicate the form for India.

“He was one of the targets of mine going into the auction because I’ve seen how good he has been in the past,” Ponting said. “His skill hadn’t gone anywhere. It was a matter of us getting really close to him and working him out as an individual. Try and set an environment and training regime for him to try and bring out the best in him.

“We all worked really closely with him. Watto (Shane Watson) in particular worked a lot with him on the mental side of the game, and we got some really good returns from him.

“His name will come up I’m sure, because he’s something that little bit different – left-arm leg-spinner.”

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