That was cricket at its absolute best: Ponting

World Cup champion praises the 'extraordinary spell' that still has the cricket world buzzing

Ricky Ponting is the latest to join the chorus of admiration for the efforts of Wahab Riaz and Shane Watson and the fast-bowling spell that lit up the World Cup.

The former Australia skipper described the contest as "cricket at its absolute best", while fellow great Brian Lara slammed the decision to fine both players following the enthralling duel.

"(Watson) couldn't do much but survive against Wahab Riaz in that extraordinary spell on Friday night," Ponting wrote in The Australian.

"Their contest was cricket at its absolute best. Watto didn't want to hook him and Wahab was going to make life hell for him if he didn't.

"Watto was lucky to be dropped, but he survived and really started to show he is in control of his game."

Wahab Riaz's magnificent spell

Both Watson and Wahab were fined for breaching the International Cricket Council's Code of Conduct, with ICC match referee Ranjan Madugalle stating the exchange "crossed that fine line between intense competition and unacceptable behaviour".

Quick Single: Watson, Wahab fined for exchange

However, Lara described the penalty as "uncalled for" and even offered to pay Wahab's fine that equated to 50 per cent of his match fee.

"It's ridiculous what the end result is. We are all entertainers. That to me was one of the highlights of the World Cup," Lara told NDTV.

"A guy running in bowling at 150kph plus and Watson looked like he was at school.

Image Id: ~/media/98678FA287A0472FB9F6B1BF1D48F3CB

Watson and Wahab go head-to-head at the Adelaide Oval // Getty Images

"It's just unbelievable that that's the end result ... both were fined. I don't know what the ICC is thinking.

"It's just uncalled for. We need this in a sport that people are running away from, especially 50-over cricket.

"I loved the exchange. It was above board as far as I'm concerned and I can't wait to meet him. I want to meet with this Riaz guy. I'll pay the fine."

Both players took to Twitter on Sunday to share their mutual respect with their thousands of followers.