“It is always hard to go past India in any tournament, not just an Asia Cup, but I think every time we talk about the T20 World Cup which is coming up, I think that India will be right in the thick of it there. Their depth is definitely better than the other teams and I think India will win the Asia Cup,” said Ponting on the latest episode of ICC Review.
Pakistan holds an edge over India in head-to-head meetings overall, but in Asia Cup, India has a slight advantage of 7-5 in their 13 matches. One produced no result. He expects a tight match between both sides but feels India have the depth to go across the line in the match.
“I will stick with India to win that clash against Pakistan. That is taking nothing away from Pakistan because they are an incredible cricket nation that continues to present out-and-out superstar players,” he said.
Ponting feels that fans and players have been starved of this brilliant rivalry between two Asian giants.
India and Pakistan have not played Test cricket against each other since a draw in 2007 at Bengaluru, in which Sourav Ganguly scored a brilliant 239.
“To be totally honest it is one that we have been starved of, have not we … looking back the last 15 or 20 years. As a cricket lover like I am and a cricket observer, any time those sorts of battles come up it is almost always nice to sit back and watch because everything just goes up a notch, does not it?” he said.
There is still an outside chance of both side’s meeting for the final of the ICC World Test Championship next year and Ponting would love it if rivalry grows even further with some red-ball cricket.
“When I think about rivalries, Australia and England and Ashes cricket is the pinnacle I have always thought of for our Test match game. I am sure India and Pakistanis will say the same about that and the actual rivalry would be the pinnacle of Test match cricket for those two countries as well,” he said.
Ponting has seen many of India’s T20I stars during his stint as an IPL coach and has his eyes on their preparation for the upcoming T20I World Cup, which will take place between October-November this year.
India has emerged victorious in 17 of their 21 T20I matches this year despite the rotation of players by coach Rahul Dravid and selectors.
A noticeable absentee from Asia Cup 2022 squad is Mohammed Shami, who has not been part of India’s T20I teams since the last T20 World Cup.
Acknowledging that the shortest format is Shami’s weakest, Ponting opines that Shami could do his job if he makes it to the squad for T20 WC.
“He has been a very, very good bowler for India for a long time now. If you look at his strengths, his Test cricket is probably where he thrives the most. I think there are better fast bowlers in Indian T20 cricket than Shami and they have only named three (for the Asia Cup). So if there are potentially four named in the squad he might be the fourth man in.
“I would think they will probably only have the four quicks coming to Australia. They will still want to bring a lot of spin here even though the wickets are probably not that conducive,” he added.
Coming to the Asia Cup, the 15th edition of the tournament will be played in the UAE between six teams (main event). Defending champions India are also the most successful team, having won the trophy seven times. While the last edition of the tournament was held in an ODI format, this edition will feature the T20 format.
The six teams are divided into two groups with India, Pakistan and a qualifying team in Group A; and Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan forming Group B. Each team plays the other once in the group stage with the top two teams from each group advancing to the Super 4 round. The top 2 teams from Super 4 will qualify for the final.
India squad for Asia Cup: Rohit Sharma (c), KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant, Deepak Hooda, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravi Bishnoi, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh, Avesh Khan.
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