Ponting urges team India to field ‘X-Factor players’ Kishan and Suryakumar in WTC Final

Ricky Ponting, the former Australian cricketer, believes that India should include players with exceptional X-factor abilities in their lineup if they wish to gain an advantage over Australia in the World Test Championship (WTC) final. Ponting specifically mentioned Ishan Kishan, who he considers a stronger candidate than KS Bharat to fulfill the role of wicketkeeper-batter in the absence of Rishabh Pant, and Suryakumar Yadav.

During an episode of the ICC Review podcast, Ponting expressed that his preferred Indian playing XI for the WTC final would also feature both R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, with Jadeja primarily serving as a batsman at number six and Suryakumar positioned above him in the middle order.


“If I were India, recognizing the significance of this game and the need to win, I would go with Ishan Kishan,” Ponting stated. “He brings that X-factor that is crucial when pushing for a victory in a Test match. Of course, if Rishabh Pant is fit, he should play as he provides that X-factor. However, in his absence, I believe Kishan brings a little more X-factor. He would do a good job as a wicketkeeper while also maintaining a high scoring rate, which is essential in a one-off Test match when aiming for a win.”

Ponting emphasized the importance of including multiple X-factor players to exert pressure on the Australian team.

Neither Kishan nor Suryakumar are established Test players. While Kishan is yet to make his Test debut, he was part of the squad during the home Test series against Australia earlier this year. On the other hand, Suryakumar played his solitary Test match during the same series, contributing eight runs in the only innings India batted in Nagpur, where they won by an innings and 132 runs on their way to a 2-1 series victory.

Both players, however, possess commendable records in first-class cricket. Suryakumar has accumulated 5557 runs in 80 first-class matches at an average of 44.45, while Kishan has scored 2985 runs in 48 matches, averaging 38.76. Although they have made a name for themselves primarily as explosive batters in shorter formats, their first-class performances showcase their capabilities.

Ponting did not elaborate on why he suggested Suryakumar should bat at number five but expressed his satisfaction with Ajinkya Rahane’s return to the Test squad.

“Jinks (Rahane) has had an incredible IPL as well. It’s funny, isn’t it, how IPL runs can now get you picked back into a Test match squad,” Ponting commented. “Jinks has been out of the Test side for the past couple of years, but everyone witnessed his confidence and impressive performance in the IPL, which led to his inclusion.”

Ponting further predicted that India would select both Jadeja and Ashwin due to Jadeja’s ability to hold the number six batting position. He acknowledged that Ashwin is a more skilled and proficient Test bowler than Jadeja, but with Jadeja’s improved batting skills, he can now be chosen as a batsman who can contribute with a few overs if necessary. Ponting also highlighted the potential advantage of having a high-quality second spin bowling option in Jadeja if the pitch at The Oval begins to favor spinners on the fourth and fifth days of the match.

The WTC final will take place at The Oval from June 7 to 11, and Ponting expects India to opt for Ashwin and Jadeja based on the nature of

the pitch. While historically The Oval has been favorable to batsmen, it has also shown the ability to assist spinners, particularly if the surface is dry.

As the final approaches, all eyes will be on the Indian team’s selection and whether they choose to include the recommended X-factor players to gain an advantage over Australia.