In Virat Kohli vs Steve Smith, whoever masters mind will be best: Ponting

New Delhi :Virat Kohli has got stiff competition from his peers in international cricket and whoever out of them “masters the mind” best will end up having a better career, feels Australian great Ricky Ponting.

Brett Lee recently said Kohli is best in the business currently, ignoring the likes of Steve Smith, Joe Root and Kane Williamson. His longtime captain Ponting, however, feels it is still not time to settle the “best batsman” debate.

“To tell you the truth, I don’t really care (who is the best batsmen at the moment). I just love to see all these guys playing (Kohli, Smith, Williamson and Root). There are a number of current players who are probably on a similar career path,” said Ponting, who is in India promoting his home state of Tasmania as its brand ambassador.

“Kohli probably has got age on his side. His ODI career till this stage has been incredible. We also know what he did in last year’s IPL (hitting four hundreds). He is an ultra-skilled and talented player. More importantly, he has got the attitude to want to be the best he can be and wants to lead his country in the best way possible.

“Smith and Williamson are in the same boat. Whoever I guess masters the mind games the best will be the one who ends up with the best career record,” said the two-time World Cup winning captain further.

For the record, Kohli has hit 37 international hundreds while Root, Smith and Williamson have 18, 20 and 21 centuries to their names respectively.

While all four of them have played similar number of Tests, Kohli has played ODI cricket a lot more than his contemporaries, having already slammed 25 centuries.

The next question for Ponting was on the Kohli and Sachin Tendulkar comparison. The Australian, who himself has 71 international tons — second only to Tendulkar, said it is too early to compare the two Indians.

“I would say let’s wait till Virat finishes his career. Virat is still very young. He could have a bad injury tomorrow and not play another game and then probably there will be no comparison with Sachin having played 200 Tests and Virat 50 or 60 odd. So there will be no comparison,” said Ponting.

He also gave his thoughts on the proposed two-tier system in Tests but ended up criticising ODI cricket.

“Look I am all for adding as much context to all formats of the game as possible. The Test championship and the two division competition have been talked about for a long time and here we are now, still have not been able to come up with the right program.

“I think the question is more important for ODI cricket than Tests. ODI cricket is the format which is lacking the most context at the moment. You have a one-off series, like Sri Lanka played Australia recently. It doesn’t mean anything.

Both teams want to win the series but there is nothing else riding on it. It is a great challenge (to come up with the right program for all formats),” said the 41-year-old.