Ponting feels India won't have it easy Down Under

Despite the absence of Steve Smith and David Warner, former Australian captain Ricky Ponting believes the current Australian team is not the 'weakest' and will pose a tough challenge for India.

Australian captain Tim Paine (left) with Ricky Ponting (centre) and coach Justin Langer.   -  Getty Images

Despite the suspension of David Warner and Steve Smith for the ball tampering incident in South Africa leaving the Australian side weak, former Australian captain Ricky Ponting still feels conditions will be the major factor deciding the outcome of the series when India tours Australia later this year.

Speaking on the sidelines of an event here on Tuesday, announcing the partnership between Big Bash league and Indian company BKT Tyres, Ponting allayed concerns that this will be one of the weakest Australian teams to face India and giving the visitors its best chance of a Test series win Down Under.

“I don't think it is the weakest Australian team. When India comes here we might have Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood back and that should help even though we will miss Warner and Smith at the top of the order. Most importantly, if the wickets help the pacers and the ball moves around, India will struggle. But if the wickets are flat like last summer during The Ashes, then India will be right in the equation.”

Read: There will be no shortage of effort under Paine and Langer, says Healy

Commenting on the recent India England series, Ponting said the experience of playing in home conditions helped England come through in a tightly contested series. “It is always hard touring the UK and England is a very good side. Stuart Broad and James Anderson are the best bowlers in the world in helpful conditions.”

“So it is hard to pinpoint where India went wrong especially considering how some of the matches were very close and could have gone either way. But maybe England’s experience of their own conditions helped them.”

One big positive for India from the England tour was Virat Kohli scoring runs in the one place that was seen as a final frontier for him. When asked if Kohli’s comparisons with Sachin Tendulkar was justified, Ponting said it was a bit unfair to make comparisons considering how long Tendulkar played finishing with 200 Tests. “Comparisons are always hard to make at this point of Virat’s career. It is one thing to dominate international sport for a short period of time and it is another thing to do over 10-15 years and Sachin did it across formats.”

Ricky Ponting (L) at the BBL-BKT tyres sponsorship event.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

 

The former skipper also backed Australia’s new coach Justin Langer and skipper Tim Paine to improve the image of the Australian team after the sandpaper gate incident earlier in South Africa.

However, Ponting also strongly defended against the perception that there was something wrong with the culture in the dressing room saying, “We  know why this started. Nothing was said about it before South Africa. I was with the team since last summer with the T20 triangular series and one-dayers in England. Our culture has always been very good and with Justin (Langer) and Tim Paine things will be vastly different going forward. We now have the right people in the right places.”

Earlier, BKT Tyres announced a three-year deal to partner Big Bash League as the competition’s new off-Highway tyre supplier at the hallowed Melbourne Cricket Ground and became the first company from the sub-continent to partner the T20 tournament.

(The writer is in Melbourne at the invitation of BKT tyres)