Jasprit Bumrah v Shaheen Afridi? Babar Azam v Jos Buttler? Hardik Pandya v Glenn Maxwell? Wanindu Hasaranga v Rashid Khan? Dinesh Karthik v Rishabh Pant?

On the most recent episode of The ICC Review, Australia icon Ricky Ponting had a little fun by making some bold predictions and choosing who he would pick in some of the most challenging head-to-head matches between some of the biggest names in T20I cricket.

As a prominent coach and recognized commentator, Ponting follows T20 cricket more than anybody else in the world, keeping a close eye on some of the game’s most gifted players.

ricky ponting
Ricky Ponting

People are beginning to speculate which player would perform best in a specific role in T20 cricket as the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 in Australia approaches quickly.

Ponting was given the terrible duty of picking just one player out of two in the player face-offs, according to host Sanjana Ganesan of The ICC Review.

Here are Ponting’s picks, which include both starting batsmen and cunning spinners.

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1.  Jasprit Bumrah v Shaheen Afridi

Jasprit Bumrah v Shaheen Afridi
Jasprit Bumrah v Shaheen Afridi

Jasprit Bumrah and Shaheen Afridi, two of the best fast bowlers in the world, both have an impressive track record in the shortest format. Afridi has taken 47 wickets in 40 games, compared to Bumrah’s 69 in 58 games.

With the new ball and in the final few overs, the two pacers are just as effective. Ponting acknowledged that it was difficult to choose just one, saying: “Look, how do you split those two guys? In recent years, across all game types, they have been two of the top bowlers in the world.

Ponting ultimately decided on Bumrah since he was a seasoned politician.

“I’ll probably go on experience alone – I’ll go for Bumrah. He’s played a fair bit of cricket in Australia now, played more in Australia than Afridi and has played more big tournaments as well than Afridi has.”

2.  Babar Azam v Jos Buttler

Babar Azam v Jos Buttler
Babar Azam v Jos Buttler

Next, Ponting was asked to choose between two of the world’s most reliable opening batters. Buttler and Babar both take the initiative, and their track records speak for themselves.

While Buttler has scored 1,562 runs in 94 games, Babar has scored 2,138 runs in 80 games.

Both players are on Ponting’s list of the top five T20 players, and the former Australia captain had nothing but positive things to say about them.

Buttler beat Babar, who strikes at a rate of 128.81, thanks to his 142.57 international strike rate.

“Babar Azam, he is technically a better player than Buttler. You look at their strike rates though and there is no comparison there, Buttler is much more dynamic, sort of a more 360-degree player than Babar is,” Ponting noted.

Buttler’s experience in Australia also worked in his favour.

“Buttler has also played more cricket in Australia with England and he has spent some time in the Big Bash with Sydney Thunder. So I’m going to go Jos Buttler on this one,” Ponting added.

3.  Hardik Pandya v Glenn Maxwell

Hardik Pandya v Glenn Maxwell
Hardik Pandya v Glenn Maxwell

Ponting struggled to make a choice in the clash of the powerful all-rounders and decided on a draw. The Australian veteran supported his countryman to prove more lethal with the bat even though he thought Pandya would make more of an impact with the ball in Australia.

Praising Hardik, Ponting said: “Hardik’s last few months, in particular, have probably been the best of his career. Looking at the way they stack up, I think Hardik will probably have more of a chance to have an impact with the ball and also more of a chance to have an impact with the bat.”

But Ponting was also effusive in his praise for Maxwell, adding: “Maxwell’s been batting quite low in T20 cricket. But that being said, in Australia, I think Maxwell will end up scoring more runs than Hardik. And I think Hardik will take more wickets than Maxwell. So, I’m going to call that one a draw.”

4. Wanindu Hasaranga v Rashid Khan

Wanindu Hasaranga v Rashid Khan
Wanindu Hasaranga v Rashid Khan

Rashid Khan has a longstanding reputation as one of T20 cricket’s top spinners. Wanindu Hasaranga has also experienced a notable surge recently, topping the wicket-taking charts at the T20 World Cup 2021 in the United Arab Emirates and then building on it with the performances that earned him Player of the Tournament honours at the Asia Cup.

Despite Hasaranga’s recent performances, Ponting still backed Rashid over the Sri Lankan star due to his experiences in the Big Bash League. Claiming that conditions in Australia won’t support either of the spinners, Ponting said: “Hasaranga has obviously been white-hot of late and conditions here are not going to suit either of these two guys.

“Rashid Khan’s played 5-6 years now in the BBL with Adelaide Strikers, been the No.1 ranked T20 bowler in the world for a long time now so Rashid Khan just pips Hasaranga.”

5. Dinesh Karthik v Rishabh Pant

Dinesh Karthik v Rishabh Pant
Dinesh Karthik v Rishabh Pant

Who should be the designated wicketkeeper-batter in the team has long been a source of contention in Indian cricket circles. Karthik can brag about being a great finisher, but Pant has enormous skill and is supported by many.

Ponting thinks that Rohit Sharma’s squad should move on in this manner because India has occasionally selected both players on the same side.

Praising both, Ponting said: “I actually think that India’s best team has both of these players. I don’t care if they are both keepers but I think their batting prowess is enough.”

Elaborating on their abilities, the Australian legend added: “Rishabh in the middle order and Dinesh as a finisher, they look extremely dangerous to me.”

Ultimately though, Ponting believed that Pant had an edge over Karthik as he is likely to be afforded more chances.

“Look, I’m just going to favour Rishabh because I think he might get slightly more opportunities than Dinesh does,” he concluded.

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