Ricky Ponting believes India are a “world-class T20 team” and expects the cricketing powerhouse nation to meet defending champions Australia in next month’s final Down Under.
Australia announced their 15-man squad for the tournament on Thursday, including 26-year-old Tim Davids.
Ponting believes he can have the same devastating impact that David Andrew Symonds did in 2003, when the batting all-rounder came of age and never looked back.
Former Australia captain Aaron Finch said if the losing streak continues, “the pressure is on”.
A lot has changed since Australia won their first T20 World Cup 10 months ago.
For starters, Justin Langer continues as coach, while Andrew MacDonald oversees an experienced squad.
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And while they were the underdogs going into the tournament last year, a largely foreign side in which Australia thrived overall, and a struggling team that missed several of its strongest players in the lead-up to the tournament, MacDonald’s side is remarkably stable.
“I think the main reason they’re underdogs is more about the conditions than anything else,” Ponting told foxsports.com.au.
They had a very good team going into that World Cup. I think we fear Indians and Pakistanis and teams in those conditions and Australia were good enough and everything lined up perfectly for them to play great cricket on that tour.
“I think India is the most outstanding T20 team in the world because of the depth of talent they have and how many guys can come in and out of that side and keep winning.
“They play these situations well. We’ve seen them play in the last couple of years, they’re still playing well in Australia, so I’ve got Australia and India in the final.
Analysis: Why Finch survived and Green lost – Winners and losers from the Aussie T20 World Cup squad
The main concern heading into the tournament is the lack of form from Finch at the top of the order.
It’s nothing new either.
Finch has struggled for 18 months, with his form woes beginning to come during the 2020-21 Big Bash, where he managed 179 runs at just 13.76.
As of 2021, the 35-year-old has managed just five half-centuries from his last 26 matches.
While in ODIs, Finch has four ducks in his last nine innings.
Ponting, who has struggled for consistency at the back of his career, said Australia was reluctant to move on from Finch at this late stage but needed a point or two to consolidate his position.
“Well, he had a reasonable series before[this Zimbabwe series]didn’t he?” Ponting said.
“And he was under more pressure at the beginning than he was at the end.
“I mean, there’s no doubt he’s had his ups and downs, probably more than the ups and downs of the last 12 months, the ball was in his court.
“I mean, if he continues to fall, the pressure will increase. But if he gets a few good performances between now and then, I think they’ll definitely stick with him.”
For months, Ponting has admired David, who, like David Warner, took a different route to the Australian team.
After struggling to impress in Australia, David emerged and blossomed in overseas T20 tournaments and was called into the squad on the back of match-winning cameos.
Ponting, who will work alongside David for the Hobart Hurricanes in this summer’s Big Bash, says the Singapore-born Australian can be a match-winner if given the chance.
“Two seasons ago he was struggling to get a game in the BBL and now he has become one of the most sought-after T20 batsmen in the world,” Ponting said.
“I saw it in person in the IPL this year, some of the impact it had on some of those games (was devastating).
He keeps getting better and better with every tournament he plays, and I see him as Andrew Symonds in 2015. I equated it to the 2003 World Cup.
“I think if you put him in, he’s one of those guys that if he can’t just win a game or two, he can beat you in a tournament, so I’m sure they’re thinking about him.”
Ponting added that he was a “big fan” of Josh Phillippe and Josh Inglis.