Australia v South Africa - Third Test: Day 1
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 04: Marnus Labuschagne of Australia looks dejected after being dismissed by Anrich Nortje of South Africa during day one of the Third Test match in the series between Australia and South Africa at Sydney Cricket Ground on January 04, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Australia v South Africa - Third Test: Day 1

As Australia and India get ready to compete against each other in the WTC Final, cricket legend Ricky Ponting has compiled his best combined Australia-India Test XI.

Batters (Openers and middle order)

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 30: Allan Border Medallist Steve Smith poses during the 2023 Australian Cricket Awards at Royal Randwick Racecourse on January 30, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Ricky Ponting has decided to choose Rohit Sharma and Usman Khawaja as his two openers for the side. Sharma will also captain the side, according to Ponting.

With his two openers picked, he was quick to select Marnus Labuschagne as the No.3 batter in the XI. Earning high praise from Ponting, he hailed Labuschagne's contributions in recent years as better than any other batter.

"Since he came into Test cricket as a concussion sub at Lord's when Steve Smith got hit by Jofra Archer, he's hardly put a foot wrong," Ponting said to ICC Cricket.

"He's improved and come on in leaps and bounds to be where he is now, right at the top of the world Test Batting Rankings, so it was pretty hard to go past him."

Ponting continued his middle-order and chose Virat Kohli and Steve Smith as his No.4 and No.5 batters.

"Pretty hard to go past the next couple I've got in the batting line-up, which are Virat Kohli and Steve Smith," Ponting said.

"If you talk about great players of the last decade, both of these guys will be right at the top of anyone's list."

"Both with exceptional Test records and both make a lot of hundreds."

All Rounder and Wicket Keeper (No.6 and No.7)

England v India - 3rd Vitality IT20
NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - JULY 10: India batsman Ravindra Jadeja hits out during the third Vitality T20 match between England and India at Trent Bridge on July 10, 2022 in Nottingham, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

While multiple players could have taken the No.6 role in the combined Australia-India Test XI, Ponting decided on Ravindra Jadeja who is useful with both bat and ball.

"What I've seen with Ravi Jadeja the last two or three years in Test cricket is how much his batting has improved, and he can easily hold down a number six or number seven spot," Ponting told ICC Cricket.

Ponting then chose Alex Carey as the man behind the stumps, rounding out the top seven batting order.

"Alex Carey's Test career has grown a lot in the last 12 months as well. His wicketkeeping is almost second to none in world cricket at the moment."

Bowlers (Three seam bowlers and one spinner)

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 28: Mitchell Starc of Australia tapes his finger during day three of the Second Test match in the series between Australia and South Africa at Melbourne Cricket Ground on December 28, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Turning his attention to his bowling options, Ponting was quick to choose fast bowlers Pat Cummins (Australia), Mitchell Starc (Australia) and Mohammad Shami (India).

"Pat Cummins, you've got to have in any Test team that you're picking," Ponting stated to ICC.

"Mitchell Starc's last 12 months, I think have probably been some of the best that he's actually had in Test cricket."

"I know we're picking a Test team here, and Shami's Test record the last couple of years has been outstanding, but some of his bowling over the last few weeks in the IPL has also been absolutely unbelievable," Ponting said.

"He's just about the pick of the new-ball bowlers I think now going around in the IPL. I know we're switching to a red ball, but I think he thoroughly deserves to be picked in that line-up."

For his spinning option, Ponting decided to stick with tweaker Nathan Lyon- who will bat at No.10 in his combined side.

"Nathan Lyon will be the other spinner in the side."

"I judge spin on what Indian subcontinental batsmen normally talk about when they talk about facing spin bowling, and everyone I've spoken to from India or Sri Lanka and those sorts of places rate Nathan Lyon really highly. So he's going to go in there."

Ricky Ponting's Combined Australia-India Test XI:

  1. Rohit Sharma (c) (India)
  2. Usman Khawaja (Australia)
  3. Marnus Labuschagne (Australia)
  4. Virat Kohli (India)
  5. Steve Smith (Australia)
  6. Ravindra Jadeja (India)
  7. Alex Carey (wk) (Australia)
  8. Pat Cummins (Australia)
  9. Mitchell Starc (Australia)
  10. Nathan Lyon (Australia)
  11. Mohammad Shami (India)