Former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting has said that Virat Kohli is the best batsman in the world currently, but believes that banned Steve Smith still trumps the Indian captain. Ponting is of the view that Smith's golden run during the latest Ashes series, which yielded 687 runs and three tons at a mind-boggling average of 137.40, separated him from the current pack, meaning Kohli is only the best by default. "Right now, he (Kohli) is because Steve Smith is not there," Ponting told cricket.com.au.
"(But) if Steve Smith was playing now, I'd have him as the number one player in the world.
"That's how high in regard I hold Steve Smith - what he's done the last three or four years with his game and (he’s been) able to lead an Australian team to so many wins the way he has (batted).
"The Ashes summer last year was just some of the best and purest batting as you're ever going to see. To do it on the big stage in an Ashes series, and to do it on the first day of an Ashes series when it counts the most, says a lot about him," Ponting said.
As far as Test cricket is concerned, Smith shades Kohli by most statistical markers. In two less Tests than Kohli, Smith has scored 23 tons and averages 61.37, while the Indian has 21 hundreds and a batting average of 53.40.
Kohli averages 45.39 outside India, while Smith trumps him once again with a mark of 50.96 abroad.
However, when it comes to white-ball cricket, Kohli leaves Smith far behind.
In 208 One-day Internationals (ODIs), Kohli has 35 centuries as compared to Smith's eight, and averages 58.10 to Smith's 41.84.
His 12 months out of the game could also see Kohli pass him on the International Cricket Council Test Rankings for batsmen, which still have the Australian in top spot ahead of second-placed Kohli.
Due to Smith's suspension for his part in the Cape Town ball-tampering incident, cricket fans will be denied the prospect of watching the two batting stars go head to head this summer when India tours Australia for four Tests.
India will play Tests in Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne and Sydney. They will also to turn out for three ODIs and three T20Is.
India have never won a Test series in Australia in 11 attempts since 1947 and have won just five out of 44 Tests in total.