Right now, Virat Kohli is the best because Steve Smith is not there, says Ricky Ponting

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Right now, Virat Kohli is the best because Steve Smith is not there, says Ricky Ponting

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SportsCafe Desk


Ricky Ponting has named Virat Kohli as the best current player but insisted that banned Steve Smith would have trumped Kohli if he would have been playing. Damien Fleming stated that Indian players are more resilient overseas now and would give tough competition to Australia in the upcoming series.

Cricket fans would be denied the prospect of watching the two best batting stars of the time go head to head this summer when India would tour Australia for four Tests, due to Steve Smith's suspension for his part in the Cape Town ball-tampering incident. His 12 months out of the game left the door open for Virat Kohli to pass him on the official ICC Test batting rankings, which still have the Australian in top spot ahead of second-placed Kohli.

Ponting believed that Smith's golden Ashes summer, which yielded 687 runs and three tons at the jaw-dropping average of 137.40, separated him from the pack but due to his suspension, Kohli would be the best by default.

"Right now, he (Kohli) is because Steve Smith is not there. (But) if Steve Smith was playing now, I'd have him as the number one player in the world. That's how high in regard I hold Steve Smith -  what he's done the last three or four years with his game and (he’s been) able to lead an Australian team to so many wins the way he has (batted),” said Ricky Ponting as quoted by cricket.com.au. "The Ashes summer last year was just some of the best and purest batting as you're ever going to see. To do it on the big stage in an Ashes series, and to do it on the first day of an Ashes series when it counts the most, says a lot about him."

Separated by only six months in age, Smith has an edge over Kohli by most statistical Test markers. In two lesser Tests than Kohli, Smith has made 23 Test tons and averages 61.37, while the Indian skipper has 21 hundreds and a batting average of 53.40. Each player has a strong Test batting record abroad to back up their phenomenal home numbers. Kohli averages a very respectable 45.39 outside India, though Smith also trumps him here with a mark of 50.96 abroad.

But when it comes to the white-ball cricket, Kohli leaves Smith in the dust. In 208 one-day internationals (100 more games than Smith has played), Kohli has 35 centuries to Smith's eight and averages 58.10 to Smith's 41.84. That gap is mirrored in T20 Internationals, where Kohli averages 48.88 to Smith's 21.55. 

Australian fans would be able to watch Kohli up close this summer for Tests in Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne and Sydney, with India also to turn out for three ODIs and three T20Is. India have never won a Test series in Australia in 11 attempts since 1947 and have won just five out of 44 Tests in total, though they have drawn three series in that time. But the absence of Smith along with David Warner and Cameron Bancroft could negate some of Australia’s home advantage, and former Test quick Damien Fleming believed that India's batsmen have been as adaptable abroad as they've ever been.

"If you look at their record in Australia since 2003-04, apart from one series where they got flogged (in 2011-12, a 0-4 whitewash), they've been very competitive," Fleming told cricket.com.au. "They're more resilient overseas now than they were before. If you look at someone like Ajinkya Rahane, he almost looks a better batsman outside of India. He can get hundreds on seamers in England and he can get runs out here with bounce - they're developing all-round players. Obviously Kohli is a superstar too."

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