Ricky Ponting: A match-winner if ever there was one
His swivel pull shot was a feast for the eyes, his pristine cover drive had class written all over it, and his typical nonchalance made the opposition retreat in awe. Ricky Ponting will certainly go down in history as one of the greatest batsmen produced by Australia.
Ponting is the only Australian to score over 20,000 international runs, and is the highest run-scorer for his nation in both Tests and ODIs. He is also the second-highest century-maker in international cricket (71), after the legendary Sachin Tendulkar (100).
But more than anything else, Ponting was a ruthless leader who made Australia an almost invincible team. Under him, the Aussies drubbed England 5-0 at home in the Ashes in 2007, won two back-to-back World Cups, and were the No. 1 ranked team in both Tests and ODIs.
Ponting, along with the likes of Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden, Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne, catapulted Australia to the pinnacle of the sport. This exceptional group of players made the team the most irresistible force of the 2000s.
'Punter', as he is nicknamed, is also the only player in history to be involved in more than 100 Test wins (108).
Ponting can easily qualify as one of the greatest batsmen of his generation. If Tendulkar’s genius made the cricketing world gape in disbelief and Lara’s wizardry had the opposition searching for answers, then Ponting’s elegance combined with his relentless pursuit for runs made him an unstoppable match-winner for his country.
Ponting played several classy knocks during the course of his celebrated career. His whirlwind 140* in the 2003 World Cup final just blew the Indian team away and helped Australia lift their second World Cup in a row.
His magical 257 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 2003 helped Australia pulverize India by 9 wickets.
And his ethereal 196 in the Ashes at Brisbane enabled Australia to demolish England by 277 runs.
Out of Ponting's 71 international hundreds, as many as 54 came in a winning cause. That just goes to show the man's ability as a match-winner.
Ponting retired from the game in the year 2012. As he walked out to the middle for the last time in Australian colours, the South African team greeted him with a guard of honour.
His last boundary in international cricket was a pull shot, played with the same grandeur and splendor as it had been 17 years ago.
Ponting will surely go down as the greatest captain the Australian cricket team has ever had. And his sublime stroke play will be etched in the memories of cricket aficionados for a long time to come.
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