In anticipation of the highly anticipated World Test Championship (WTC) Final between India and Australia, former Australian captain Ricky Ponting unveiled his combined XI for the clash. However, his selections raised eyebrows as he included just four Indian players in the lineup, with Rohit Sharma leading the side.
Ponting’s most shocking omission came in the opening position, where he overlooked the in-form Shubman Gill, who had recently scored a century in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Instead, Ponting opted for Usman Khawaja to partner with Rohit Sharma. Defending his choice, Ponting praised Khawaja’s exceptional performance in recent years, both at home and away. He emphasized the left-hand, right-hand combination and also bestowed the captaincy responsibility upon Rohit Sharma due to his extensive experience.
Marnus Labuschagne was assigned the crucial No.3 spot in Ponting’s combined XI, followed by the formidable duo of Virat Kohli and Steve Smith, who are widely regarded as two of the best Test batsmen of the modern era. Ponting acknowledged Labuschagne’s phenomenal rise in Test cricket, noting his remarkable consistency and top-ranking position in the world Test batting rankings.
The middle order was completed with the inclusion of Virat Kohli and Steve Smith, players who Ponting believes would be at the top of anyone’s list when discussing great players of the last decade. Ponting acknowledged Kohli’s recent lean patch but commended his outstanding comeback during the series against Australia, which warranted his selection.
Ravindra Jadeja was the third Indian player to secure a spot in Ponting’s XI due to his remarkable improvement in batting, making him a viable option for the number six or seven position. For the wicketkeeper’s role, Ponting chose Alex Carey over his Indian counterpart, citing Carey’s exceptional performance in the last Australian summer and his commendable wicketkeeping skills.
When it came to the pace-bowling attack, only Mohammed Shami made the cut from the Indian contingent. Joining him were the Australian fast-bowling duo of Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc, along with spinner Nathan Lyon. Ponting lauded Starc’s stellar performance over the past year, highlighting his improved consistency and mastery over both new and old ball. He also praised Shami’s outstanding Test record and his recent impressive bowling in the IPL.
Completing the lineup, Ponting opted for Nathan Lyon as the sole spinner, taking into account the high regard with which subcontinental batsmen view him. Lyon’s expertise and reputation made him an obvious choice in Ponting’s combined XI.
Ponting’s finalized combined India-Australia XI for the WTC Final consists of Rohit Sharma (c), Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Virat Kohli, Steve Smith, Ravindra Jadeja, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, and Mohammed Shami.
As the cricketing world eagerly awaits the WTC Final, Ponting’s selection choices have sparked debates among fans and experts alike. Only time will tell if his predictions and snubs prove to be accurate, but until then, cricket enthusiasts can analyze and speculate on the potential outcomes of this monumental clash between two cricketing giants.