New Delhi, May 30 (IANS): Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting believes India can go with Ishan Kishan as the wicket-keeping option at the World Test Championship (WTC) final as he can provide an 'X-factor' to the team.
The India XI will be stacked with stars when they face Australia in the ICC World Test Championship (WTC) final but Ponting has called for a keeper-batter to be handed a red-ball debut.
Ishan has impressed in 41 white-ball internationals for India since 2021 whether batting at the top of the order or taking the gloves but is yet to play a Test.
The 24-year-old proved he can turn a game on its head when smashing 210 runs from 131 balls with 10 sixes and 24 boundaries while opening for India in an ODI against Bangladesh last December.
It is that sort of devastating display that Ponting believes could ultimately prove the difference between the evenly-matched teams set to contest the WTC final from June 7 at the Oval, London.
"I'd pick Ishan Kishan If you want to be crowned the world champion, you have to win the game. Hence why there is a sixth day that has been added to try and give both teams the best chance of a result," Ponting said on The ICC Review.
"I'd be going with Ishan Kishan if I was them in this game. I think it just provides that little bit of X-factor that you might need when pushing for a win in a Test match," he added.
K.S. Bharat was preferred for the four Tests in the recent home series against Australia with Rishabh Pant unavailable after being involved in a motor vehicle accident in January.
The 29-year-old wicketkeeper, Bharat, is best suited to the red-ball format and looked comfortable when averaging 20.20 with the bat against Australia on tricky wickets, but could still be overlooked for the winner-takes-all WTC Final.
"Obviously if Rishabh Pant is fit, he's playing and he provides that X-factor for India. But with him not being there, and this is no blight on Bharat whatsoever, I think Kishan just provides that little bit more X-factor.
"(Kishan) will do a good job with the gloves, but can provide that really high-scoring run rate that might be required in a one-off Test match to try and push for a win," Ponting said.
The Australian also said that Hardik Pandya could have been India's X-factor had he been picked for the WTC Final.
Pandya has not played a Test since 2018 and was quick to rule himself out of contention for the WTC Final after electing to sit out of the five-day format due to ongoing fitness concerns.
But Ponting would have liked to see the proven match-winner talked into being part of the squad for the high-stakes clash at The Oval.
"The other really interesting thing that I thought about the other day for India in this game is how valuable someone like Hardik Pandya could"be in a one-off Test match," Ponting said.
"I know he is on record saying that the Test match game is probably a little bit hard on his body. But for a one-off game... he's been bowling every game through this IPL and he's bowling quick.
"He could be that X-factor there just to pick in a one-off game, come in and see what he can do with bat and ball. He could be the difference between the two teams," he said.