WTC Final: 'X-factor' Ishan Kishan has the potential to bat in middle-order, believes Ricky Ponting

On May 8, Kishan was named as KL Rahul’s replacement in India’s squad for the WTC final after the latter injured his right thigh in IPL 2023. He was also a part of the Test squad for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy at home earlier this year, being the second wicketkeeper to KS Bharat. So far, Kishan has played 48 first-class matches, making 2985 runs at an average of 38.76 with six centuries.

"There’s another x-factor added in Ishan Kishan. If you look at the way he plays, he’s probably the most like Rishabh Pant I think. He’s got the potential to bat in the middle-order and if they do play those guys, they should be given the right to go out and play a really aggressive brand of cricket in their way.

The best way India can achieve the best possible result is by being a bit more adventurous with the way they play. Australia will also try to do the same thing, playing an aggressive brand of cricket to give themselves the best chance of winning," said Ponting at the official curtain raiser event of the WTC Final on Friday.

"With India, the few injury issues means they can go in with a few different ways to finalise their playing eleven, particularly their batting line-up because I had KL Rahul playing in that game. So, now that he’s not there, they have to make a decision around the keeper — like whether they keep Bharat or get Ishan Kishan in," he added.

The finale between India and Australia at The Oval will also be the first time Rohit Sharma will be captaining the Test side in an overseas Test match. Ponting believes that Rohit’s caring nature as a skipper will help bring the best out of his team-mates as India is set to make their second successive appearance in the WTC final.

"I know Rohit really well. I had the chance to play with him and then be on the coaching side. I was actually the one to give Rohit Sharma his first chance to be the captain when I stepped down at the Mumbai Indians in 2013 and almost single-handedly gave him the opportunity to be the captain.

I really respect Rohit as a person and what he’s done as a player. The hardest thing for anyone to do is to judge a captain by what he’s doing on the field because so much captaincy work is done off the field. It’s not about fielding or bowling change or setting the batting order; it’s about how he interacts with his players — on and off the field," the Australian said.

More than 50% of captaincy is done off the field — how you interact with your player, how you get the best out of them and make them be the best version of themselves they can be. Knowing Rohit, he’s a very caring person and cares a lot about his cricket team in the best way he can and generally gets good performance out of the players."

Ponting signed off by saying talismanic batter Virat Kohli is slowly getting ‘back to his absolute best’, especially after the right-hander scored his sixth IPL century for Royal Challengers Bangalore against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Thursday in IPL 2023.

"I caught up with Virat about a month ago when we played them in Bangalore. I had a good chat with him about his batting and where he was at and his career. And he said to me then that he actually feels like he’s almost back to his absolute best. You probably saw that last night, you know, he’s had a very good IPL and I’m sure he’ll be the prized wicket that all the Australians are looking forward to," he concluded.



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