Ricky Ponting chose the easier way out when asked to weigh in on the debate between Hardik Pandya and Glenn Maxwell, stating neither was ahead of the other given they both impact games in different ways. He also labelled Pandya's recent form as the best of his career after some stellar performances.
The first encounter on Tuesday in Mohali between the world's number one ranked T20I side India and reigning World T20 champions Australia was a high-scoring thriller. The Kangaroos chased down an improbable target of 209 with four wickets to spare, courtesy of some explosive slogging in the final few overs.
There were a host of interesting battles between the ball and the bat but it was eventually the all-rounders' show as Hardik Pandya and Cameron Green stole the limelight for their respective teams, albeit Glenn Maxwell failed to create an impact. Pandya had driven India to a total of 200-plus with a flamboyant 71 of 30 deliveries, finishing off the innings with three sixes on the trot, even though it did not prove to be enough in the end. Regardless, this display helped him move up the ICC T20I all-rounder charts to fifth, displacing Glenn Maxwell in the process.
The 28-year-old from Baroda has been in seventh heaven ever since he was made captain of the Gujarat Titans for the Indian Premier League 2022, scoring nearly 500 runs in the tournament and leading the side to a maiden title in their inaugural season. He has gone on to replicate similar performances for the Men in Blue, even bowling his four overs now that his back has healed sufficiently. Maxwell, on the other hand, has been quietly consistent but has not had the same impact as his counterpart in either aspect of the game.
Nevertheless, the two are expected to play starring roles in next month's ICC World T20 Down Under. When asked to pick one of the two to perform better at the marquee event, legendary former Australian skipper Ricky Ponting chose to stick to no man's land.
“Hardik’s last few months, in particular, have probably been the best of his career. Looking at the way they stack up, I think Hardik will probably have more of a chance to have an impact with the ball and also more of a chance to have an impact with the bat,” he was quoted saying to Sanjana Ganesan on The ICC Review.
“Maxwell's been batting quite low in T20 cricket. But that being said, in Australia, I think Maxwell will end up scoring more runs than Hardik. And I think Hardik will take more wickets than Maxwell. So, I’m going to call that one a draw,” Ponting explained.
The two sides will clash in the second T20I of the series in Nagpur on Friday evening.