Ponting rates an in-form Tendulkar better than Lara

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Melbourne, Nov 24 (UNI) Ricky Ponting might not have a lot of positive words for Team India but the Australian captain can not resist himself from lavishing praise on Sachin Tendulkar who, he believes, is fractionally better than West Indian great Brian Lara.

''I have always maintained that he (Tendulkar) at his best was fractionally ahead of Brian Lara at his best, and they are the best two batsmen I have played against,'' Ponting wrote in his 'captain's Diary 2008'.

''As I write this, he has scored 14 international hundreds against Australia during his career (seven in Tests, seven in ODIs), and I have been on the field for many of them, so I have plenty of opportunities to gauge just how magnificent and complete a batsman he is,'' he said about the batting maestro.

The Australian skipper said he tried to set up schemes and strategies to get Tendulkar out but the master blaster proved too good and added that nothing could work against him.

''We have tried a wide variety of schemes and strategies, but he's usually had the answer to all of them...

''For me, right at the start of my Test career, it was a great experience just to see such a champion player going about his business in his conditions,'' he said in reference to a match in Mumbai.

Ponting had special appreciations for the retired Indian captain Anil Kumble and speedster Ishant Sharma and said the two never gave an opportunity to a batsman to relax at any point of the game.

''Kumble made his Test debut back in 1990, and his feat in reaching this milestone is a tribute to his remarkable durability.

''The ability to succeed at the highest level for an extended period is something I admire greatly, because it requires a certain toughness, mental strength and a persistent streak that few sportspersons possess. You need to be smart, too.

''He might be getting even better with age. It's an exclusive group, the 500-plus Test wickets club, and the Indian captain fully deserves to be a member of it,'' Ponting mentioned in his book.

He further went on to say that it was Ishant's fiery spell that did not allow Australia to win the Perth Test.

''Tall, lean, ultra-impressive Ishant Sharma, playing just his fourth Test and still eight-and-a half months short of his 20th birthday, had bowled an awesome spell to me: Seven overs when he was fast, aggressive and relentless, where I never felt as if I was truly 'in','' he said.

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