Former captain Ricky Ponting Monday lauded David Warner's impressive batting on return to the Indian T20 League, terming the knock a "great sign for Australia" ahead of the World Cup.
Dibyangshu Sarkar / AFP
Warner hit 85 off 53 deliveries on his T20 League comeback on Sunday after missing the previous edition of the Twenty20 tournament along with former captain Steve Smith due to a ball-tampering controversy.
His innings though was not enough for Hyderabad, who lost the match to Kolkata by six wickets, but Ponting praised the left-handed opener.
"I spoke to him this morning, he said he was happy enough with the way that he played," Ponting, who is coach of Delhi, told reporters.
"He still felt he was scratchy, wasn't quite there yet, which I guess is pretty understandable.
"I actually felt that he might struggle in the first part of this tournament coming off not a very high standard of cricket over the past 12 months," said the batting great, who admitted to have missed watching Warner's knock.
He went on to add, "But great signs for him and great signs for Australia looking at the World Cup."
Year-long bans from state and international cricket for Warner and Smith end on March 28 but the duo are keen to get among the runs in the Indian T20 League, ahead of the 50-over World Cup starting in May.
Ponting also praised rising Indian star Rishabh Pant who smashed a match-winning 78 off 27 deliveries in Delhi's opening game on Sunday. The 21-year-old Pant's blitzkrieg helped Delhi, who have never won a title in the world's most popular T20 league, win by 37 runs after posting 213 for six.
"I have known through a couple of seasons that Rishabh Pant has got the X factor about him, but what I am liking more and more is how he is turning that into match-winning performances," Ponting said of the wicketkeeper-batsman.
"I have seen Rishabh mature his game and mature as a person and that's not the only game he wins for Delhi this year. He will win many more games for sure," he added.
On being asked about youngsters eyeing a World Cup place through this tournament, Ponting said, "If you are talking about Rishabh then I would still keep him and (Delhi captain) Shreyas (Iyer) in calculations for that World Cup squad.
"But all they can do is score runs in the IPL to give themselves a chance to get picked."
Pant, who is being groomed to take over from Mahendra Singh Dhoni as first choice wicketkeeper in all formats, has made his name as a flamboyant batsman scoring his maiden Test century in the England series.