Ponting’s best batsman of IPL10
In a tournament that’s famed for its fast pace and high scorers, it’s been something a down year for batsmen in the Indian Premier League.
Only David Warner has passed 500 runs for the tournament, after five batsmen reached the mark last year. Both Virat Kohli (973 runs in the 2016 IPL) and Warner (848 runs) put together mammoth tournaments in 2016.
And while the Sunrisers Hyderabad captain hasn’t reached the same lofty heights, Ponting believes his pre-tournament pick to be the player of this year’s IPL could well become the third Australian to take out that award.
"I was asked right at the start of the tournament who I thought might be the player of the tournament and David Warner was the one I singled out," Ponting told cricket.com.au.
"I just felt on the back of the Test series in India that he probably wasn’t that happy with (his performance).
"Being back as captain of a team that won it the year before, I know he likes that extra responsibility as well and whenever he’s been captain or had that extra responsibility, he’s played well.
"The thing about Davey now as well is he’s very consistent in this form of the game which is not an easy thing to do.
"I think the captaincy thing sits well with him, he’s consistent and he plays match-winning knocks.
"That’s the bottom line."
Despite a difficult Border-Gavaskar Trophy series, in which the left-hander managed 193 runs at 24.12 in eight hits, Ponting believes Warner would have had no trouble putting his Test troubles out of his mind as he resumed with the reigning IPL champions.
"Knowing what Davey is like, he’s a pretty positive person, he backs himself and backs his skills and talent, I don’t think it would have been that hard to put that behind him," Ponting said.
"Going back into that successful environment from last year, there would have been a lot of confidence around the group and that would have rubbed off on him.
"He’s got a lot of experienced players around him and Tom Moody, as an Australian coach, would have helped him put that Test series behind him and then move on to trying to be the best player and best leader he can be for the Sunrisers.
"And he’s done that well again. His captaincy and his leadership last year has been outstanding, whether that be captaining the team on the field or the way he batted.
"But this year, he’s gone to another level again."
Ponting’s best bowler of IPL10
While the aggressive Warner fits the mould of a T20 star, his Sunrisers teammate Bhuvneshwar Kumar is more of an outlier.
The skillful seamer doesn’t possess raw pace or deliver the ball from a towering height, but the right-armer makes up for it with his ability to swing the new ball and deceive batsmen at the death.
Those traits were on full display in this year’s IPL, leading Ponting to crown him as this season’s standout bowler despite consistently being asked to deliver the most difficult overs.
"I actually think (Kumar) has (been the best bowler of IPL10) because of what he’s been able to do with the new ball," Ponting explained.
"He takes wickets with the new ball almost every game.
"The opening bowlers in T20 cricket bowl all the difficult overs as well. They bowl two or three in the Power Play and then someone like Kumar comes back and bowls one or two at the death as well.
"That gives them the chance to take a lot of wickets but his economy rate has been pretty good as well.
"So he probably has been the standout bowler.
"It just goes to show how important it is to swing the new ball. It doesn’t matter what part of the world you’re playing, if you can swing the new ball and put it in the right areas, you’re a chance of taking wickets up front."
And in addition to being a "world-class" operator, Kumar’s lack of pace may actually work in his favour in the IPL.
"You need a real mixture of bowlers in Indian conditions," Ponting continued.
"I think you can get away with one express bowler in your side, I don’t think you can have any more than that because balls just fly in all sorts of areas.
"You’re generally playing on good pitches in India and smallish outfields and fast outfields.
"The teams with the most variation, lots of spin options, lots of fast-bowlers who bowl good slower balls and then having the balance of an express quick bowler are probably the ones that have had the most success this year.
"I’m not surprised that Bhuvneshwar has done what he’s done because he’s been a world-class performer for the last few years.
"And not just in the IPL. Have a look at his Test record and especially in conditions where the ball does something, he’s a very good bowler."
Ponting’s top five fielders of IPL10
5. Hardik Pandya
"You don’t normally associate young Indians as being gun fielders, but he’s a little bit different. He’s a good athlete, he’s quick, he’s got good hands, he’s got a good throwing arm and he can field infield and outfield. He’s the standout young Indian fielder as far as I’m concerned"
4. David Warner
"He might be a bit disappointed he’s that low in the pecking order, but he’s just a solid all-round fieldsman. He’s got great hands, quick across the ground, a great throwing arm. He hits the stumps when he needs to and he can field in any position. Flexibility is what you’re after in a team."
3. Ravindra Jadeja
"He ticks most the boxes as well but is probably more known for his outfielding than he is for his infielding. A left-arm thrower, he’s probably got the strongest throwing arm I can ever remember seeing through all of my time playing. It’s a bullet arm. I remember him (running) me out in a one-day game early on in his career and I was out by three or four yards taking him on from the boundary. I learnt my lesson pretty quick."
2. Glenn Maxwell
"A pretty complete package. Very good in the in-field, moves laterally very well, good left-hand and right-hand, hits the stumps a lot in the inner circle. (He’s got) a powerful throwing arm from the deep and safe hands."
1. Kieron Pollard
"I’ve seen him pull off some amazing things. He tends to field long on and long off for the last 10 or eight overs of an innings. He’s a six-foot-five, six-foot-six athlete. The amount of times I’ve seen him jump on the boundary and pull in a one-hander… is pretty amazing. Some of his diving saves along the fence are quite spectacular."
Ponting’s biggest surprise of IPL10
After assembling a roster featuring two of the world’s most feared young quicks in Pat Cummins and Kagiso Rabada, and a handful India’s best young batsmen, Ponting had high hopes for the Delhi Daredevils this season.
But the side fell out of the playoff race, finishing sixth in a disappointing campaign as their constant tinkering with their starting XI appeared to backfire.
"Delhi have surprised me," Ponting said. "I picked them as a bit of a smoky for the tournament because the last few years they’d put together some really strong squads.
"They’ve got just about all the best young Indian batsmen with Sanju Samson, Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer.
"They’ve just missed something there.
"They’ve surprised me that they haven’t been a bit more competitive this season.
"They haven’t been able to really nail down a consistent line-up. They’re one of these teams that likes to mix and match and change to try and get the right matchups, but that just doesn’t work in this format of the game.
"It’s not that they change just one player either, they will make four or five changes per game.
"When you’re trying to train guys to play specific roles in a line-up, you can change a team by just giving them a different role.
"You don’t actually change the personnel, you change the role in that squad of 11 players.
"That’s one area the best teams probably do really well. They have a lot of flexibility through their starting XI and are able to manipulate the way they want.
"Whereas Delhi just get a little too caught up in matchups and having the right player for a certain type of bowler, or the right bowler for a certain batsman.
"And quite often in a 20-over game you don’t get to use those match-ups because it just doesn’t work out that way."