Rahul Dravid has come out in support of Ricky Ponting, who barely made it to the Australian squad on Wednesday, insisting the Indian team fears a resurgence from the struggling batsman in the upcoming Test series, starting on December 26.
"I think he is still a great player. He showed in the couple of Test matches that he played against us in India that he is still - I'd say he is still - the best Australian batsman," Dravid was quoted as saying by 'foxsports.com' ahead of the four-match series.
"From our perspective I hope he can start a golden run after our series. When you read his name on the sheet he is still one of the most feared, there is no doubt about it," he added.
Dravid's assessment came close on the heels of former players Ian Chappell and Geoff Lawson's observations that Ponting should call it quits now.
The 37-year-old Tasmanian has not scored a century for the last 32 innings spanning almost two years.
The former Australian skipper's most successful series in recent times was against India in October last year, when he scored 224 runs at 56 in a two-Test series.
While scoffing at suggestions that Ponting is too old to recapture his peak form at Test level, Dravid said, "I have been through all this myself, and can easily relate to him. I was watching those Test matches (in South Africa) and was in some way hoping that he would score runs.
"I hoped he would score runs in the next Test (against New Zealand) and then take a bit of a break against us."
The 38-year-old Dravid has scored 1067 runs this year with five centuries.
Chappell had on Tuesday admitted that the Ponting is currently struggling to find his feet in Test cricket and believed that the time has come for him to bid goodbye.
Lawson had said that if Ponting doesn't retire, the selectors need to make the tough decision.
"He's been out of form now for a couple of years. The average is down 35% in the last two years; that's a big drop.
"The previous selection group couldn't (make tough decisions). We know they were very poor and very poor at making tough decisions. You can't play forever ... it's just about that time."