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`Ponting is the best'

New Delhi Dec. 21. Former Pakistan cricketers, in the city to play a goodwill match, on Sunday hailed Australia's Ricky Ponting as the finest contemporary batsman.

``If you put all the best batsmen of the present day on one screen, I would love to watch Ricky Ponting,'' said Shafqat Rana, a former Test player and official of the Pakistan Cricket Board.

``Ponting coming on the front foot and driving on the on-side is special. Too many batsmen in modern day cricket play on the back foot. Playing on the back foot generally means being defensive,'' he said.

The 50-year old Rana, who had represented Pakistan in five Tests and had also been a selector and secretary in the PCB, said his own former teammate Zaheer Abbas was another favourite batsman of his.

``When he gets going Zaheer is a sight to watch. In one-day cricket Sachin Tendulkar is a great batsman!

``Sunil Gavaskar was another great, playing against fast bowlers like Dennis Lillee and Andy Roberts on uncovered pitches without any protection,'' Rana said.

Pakistan's former opening batsman Saddiq Mohammad, brother of the legendary Hanif Mohammad, also said he rated Ponting above others amongst the present lot but he seemed to be aware of the sensitivity of the topic in a country where Tendulkar is an icon.

``Ponting is a match-winner whereas Tendulkar has not won any Tests for India.

``Tendulkar is like Zaheer Abbas who was a beautiful batsman but never won a match for Pakistan, although the quality of batsmanship cannot be taken away from them.'' — PTI

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