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It certainly is about mindset: Ponting on talent-rich India's global trophy drought

Cricket's powerhouse India, who last won an ICC trophy in 2013, began their T20 World Cup campaign on an emphatic note in New York on Wednesday, beating Ireland by eight wickets.

It certainly is about mindset: Ponting on talent-rich Indias global trophy drought
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Rishabh Pant, Ricky Ponting (PTI)

NEW DELHI: The all-conquering Australia under Ricky Ponting's leadership knew the art of peaking at the right time in global events and the two-time World Cup-winning captain reckons India will need to do the same besides overcoming some mental demons to win an elusive ICC trophy.

Cricket's powerhouse India, who last won an ICC trophy in 2013, began their T20 World Cup campaign on an emphatic note in New York on Wednesday, beating Ireland by eight wickets.

Speaking to PTI from New York, the 49-year-old Australian great said India are well-placed to end their barren run in ICC events and need to find a way to deal with the enormous pressure that comes with representing a cricket-crazy nation.

"You've got to try and keep a clear mind where you can focus on the task at hand rather than thinking too far ahead or worrying about any sort of external pressures," said Ponting.

"There's no doubting the talent (in India squad), but we also shouldn't forget that the World Cups are not easy to win. There are all the best players in the world together at one time in different contrasting conditions.

"So look there's definitely a mindset thing to it. How you deal with pressure, how you cope with pressure, how you think your way through certain situations is the difference between winning and losing a T20 game," said Ponting, who led Australia to ODI World Cup titles in 2003 and 2007 besides winning the trophy as a player in 1999.

Ponting stressed on the importance of raising the game in the back half of the tournament.

"...one thing you know about World Cups, you have to have your best players playing well at the right time. Australian teams are playing their best cricket right at the back half of the tournament and peaking again at the right time in a major event," he said.

Six months ago, Australia peaked at the right time to lift the ODI World Cup trophy under Pat Cummins' captaincy.

The Rohit Sharma-led India are among Ponting's top four teams in the ongoing showpiece as they have all bases covered. Opening with Virat Kohli, which was the case against Ireland, is a no brainer for Ponting and he would also want to see more of Kuldeep Yadav, who was not picked for the opening game.

India may not have the power-hitters that Australia, England and South Africa possess but Ponting believes they have enough for the conditions in the Caribbean where the knockouts will be held.

"I mean, it's not so much about power hitting, it's about strike rates as well," he said when asked if India did not match up to rival teams in the striking department.

"If you look at the strike rates of the Indian batters, they'd probably match up pretty well against players from other countries. I know Australia will have Marsh and Stoinis and Maxwell and Cameron Green and these sort of guys in the middle order there, and South Africa will have Stubbs, Klassen and David Miller.

"So they have got a lot of power, but then you look at the Indian lineup, Surya, although he's not an out and out power player, his strike rate and his scoring ability all around the grounds is as good as anybody in world cricket.

"Rishabh Pant is obviously back and coming off of a pretty good IPL as well and hitting the ball beautifully. Then you've got Hardik Pandya there as well. So, I think they've got enough power and that their batting lineup will look as dangerous as anybody's," said Ponting.

Also, for him, it makes sense to open with Rohit Sharma and Kohli throughout the tournament.

"What we've seen with Rohit over the last couple of years is that he is playing a lot more of an aggressive role at the top of the order than he probably once did.

"Virat is coming off another magnificent IPL opening the batting For RCB, so I would definitely be going that way," said Ponting.

It is still early days in the tournament but Ponting would be surprised if India, England, Australia and South Africa don't make the semifinals.

"I had Australia, India, South Africa and England will be the four that I'm going to go for in the semi-finals. But South Africa, to me, this World Cup in particular, have got a stronger looking team than they've had in a long time.

"And I think they could be one of the really dangerous lineups as this tournament goes on. But I'd also be very surprised if the winner doesn't come out of those four teams that I just mentioned."

Like is often the case, the performance of the spinners towards the business end of the tournament will hold the key and Ponting reckons this is where India are well covered with the likes of Kuldeep, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel in the 15.

"A lot of Australia's success as well revolves around how well Adam Zampa bowls. We saw that in the 50-over World Cup and what he's done for the Australian T20 cricket in the last four or five years has been outstanding.

"Spin might play a bigger role as the tournament goes on...Wrist spin obviously even more important.

"India have got most bases covered there with the two left-arm off spin options and one left arm leg spinner and one right-arm leg spinner," he added.

PTI
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