Kohli recently ended a wait of 1,020 days for his 71st international hundred when he smashed 122 not out off 61 balls against Afghanistan in the Asia Cup earlier this month.
“Look, I’ll never say never with Virat, because you know once he gets on a bit of a roll, you know how hungry he is and how keen for success he is. I’ll never say never that’s for sure,” the two-time Aussie World Cup winning skipper said.
In the course of his century, Kohli equalled Ponting’s feat of 71 tons. Kohli has now only one name on the list of most centuries above him — Tendulkar.
Thirty international centuries may be a lot, but Ponting said: “I still think he has got a number of years ahead of him, but I guess to still be 30 international hundreds behind, that’s a lot.
“That’s five or six Test hundreds a year, maybe for the next three or four years. If you throw a couple of one-day ones, maybe the odd T20 ones on top of it,” the 47-year-old added.
With Kohli back to his best, a debate doing the rounds now is whether he should open in place of KL Rahul, who has struggled to get into rhythm after coming back from an injury layoff.
Kohli has opened for India in nine T20Is, scoring 400 runs at an average of 57.14 with a superb strike rate of 161.29.
“The question we’re going to keep asking is — well I’m sure, the Indian selectors are asking the same question — does that create more of a problem than we thought with Virat getting that 100 opening the batting? What are we going to do now going into the World Cup?
“So there’s a few other questions that are probably raised on the back of that magnificent 100 that he made. He was even on record saying that he was surprised himself that the first 100 back was actually in a (T20I) game. He thought that that’d be the last option he’d have to score his first hundred in a couple of years.”
Kohli returned to the Indian team in the Asia Cup after a month-long break.
Team India will take on Australia in three T20Is beginning at Mohali on Tuesday. Then they will face South Africa in three ODIs and T20Is before flying to Australia.
Asked whether Kohli should be rested again: “Yes, that’s a really good question and that’s probably a question only he could answer,” Ponting said.
“It’s just going to depend on how he is feeling mentally again.
“When you’re playing, you don’t ever realise how tired you are till you do take a step back, because you’re always bluffing yourself and convincing yourself that you are 100 per cent right physically and mentally.
“Sometimes you’re nowhere near that. And I think Virat has actually come out and said that as well that, he just didn’t realise sort of how bad a space he was in until he got that extended break.
“If he keeps scoring runs now, I’m sure he’ll play the next series. If he plays that and plays well and starts getting on a bit of a role, I think he’ll want to keep playing. He’d want to keep that momentum going.
“But if he does have a bit of a lean patch again, it’ll probably be in his interest and India’s interest to try and freshen him up mentally as much as they can going into the World Cup,” Ponting added.