Melbourne:Australia captain Ricky Ponting may not have much love for Team India but he was liberal in his praise of individuals like Sachin Tendulkar whom he placed ahead of West Indian batting great Brian Lara.
"I have always maintained that he (Tendulkar) at his best was fractionally ahead of Brian Lara at his best, and they are the best two batsmen I have played against," Ponting wrote in his 'captain's Diary 2008'.
"As I write this, he has scored 14 international hundreds against Australia during his career (seven in Tests, seven in ODIs), and I have been on the field for many of them, so I have plenty of opportunities to guage just how magnificent and complete a batsman he is," he said in a specially highlighted reference to the Mumbai maestro.
The Aussie captain said he tried to set up schemes and strategies to trap Tendulkar but the Indian almost always broke the code.
"We have tried a wide variety of schemes and strategies, but he's usually had the answer to all of them... "For me, right at the start of my Test career, it was a great experience just to see such a champion player going about his business in his conditions," he said in reference to a contest in Mumbai.
Ponting also singled out the just retired Indian captain Anil Kumble and promising pacer Ishant Sharma for special appreciation and said batsmen could not relax against the two.
"Kumble made his Test debut back in 1990, and his feat in reaching this milestone is a tribute to his remarkable durability.
"The ability to succeed at the highest level for an extended period is something I admire greatly, because it requires a certain toughness, mental strength and a persistent streak that few sportspersons possess. You need to be smart, too.
"...he might be getting even better with age. It's an exclusive group, the 500-plus Test wickets club, and the Indian captain fully deserves to be a member of it," Ponting said.
He also lauded Indian speeedster Sharma for his awesome spell during the Perth Test.
"Tall, lean, ultra-impressive Ishant Sharma, playing just his fourth Test and still eight-and-a half months short of his 20th birthday, had bowled an awesome spell to me: Seven overs when he was fast, aggressive and relentless, where I never felt as if I was truly 'in'," he said.