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Labuschagne, Smith can challenge Root's supremacy at the top of ICC Test rankings

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Labuschagne, Smith can challenge Root's supremacy at the top of ICC Test rankings

Sydney, July 29 (Ajit Weekly News) Legendary cricketer Ricky Ponting believes Australia’s Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith have it in them to overtake former England captain Joe Root as the No.1 Test batter in the world if they perform consistently this summer.

Root was recently rewarded for his scintillating red-ball form when he overtook Labuschagne as the top ranked Test batter, but there are several batters around the world lining up to overtake the 31-year-old English cricketer.

Root will get a chance to further extend the lead over his rivals at the top when England play a three-Test series against South Africa next month. But following that there is a lull in England’s red-ball fixtures with their next assignment — a series in New Zealand — only happening in February next year.

That means both Labuschagne and Smith will get plenty of opportunities to make ground on Root, with Australia hosting West Indies and South Africa during their upcoming summer for a total of five Tests on home soil.

“Yeah, potentially (both Labuschagne and Smith could overtake Root this summer),” Ponting said on The ICC Review on Friday.

“Both of those guys (Labuschagne and Smith) have outstanding records in Australia. I think looking back at last week, it was Marnus’ first hundred (against Sri Lanka) outside Australia. In saying that, it’s been in Australia in the last couple of years where Smith has had most troubles.

“Marnus was on record recently saying that it might just be the opening of the floodgates again for Steve Smith. I think it’s been 16-17 innings for him (Smith) without a Test hundred — that doesn’t happen too often.

“Joe Root has been exactly the opposite. Every time he has gone out to bat in the last 18 months or two years, he’s made a hundred, particularly against India. His record against India has been absolutely outstanding. One thing I know is his class is permanent,” added Ponting.

Ponting said, it’s not just Labuschange or Smith who can challenge Root’s supremacy at the top, with India’s Virat Kohli too capable if he manages to find form.

“Whether it’s Smith or Labuschagne or even Virat (Kohli), when he bounces back to his career-best form, any one of those guys — and Babar Azam is another one — they can overtake Root in the next few months,” added Ponting.

–Ajit Weekly News

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