Former India captain and the third highest wicket-taker of all time in Tests, Anil Kumble, heaped lavish praise on Ricky Ponting after the Australian great announced on Thursday that he would retire after the Perth Test.

"He is to Australia what Rahul Dravid was to India. Ricky is a great player and he kept the team together especially coming in at No. 3 like Dravid did for us," Kumble told TOI.

Kumble was the Indian captain during the infamous Monkeygate scandal in Australia that brought both the teams on the verge of an ugly fallout and India almost threatened to pull out of the tour. Recalling those turn of events, Kumble said "During our tour (2008) and after the incident ( Sydney), things were a bit different, but I have interacted with him before that incident and even later. Whenever we've met, he has always been cordial."

The former leg-spinner bowled to Ponting on numerous occasions in most big-ticket matches. "What was striking about his batting was the way he stayed positive right throughout," Kumble recalled.

Analysing his failures in India, Kumble felt the low bounce on the Indian pitches was something that Ponting took time getting used to. "He was a good player of spin and he did exceptionally well against us in Australia. He was very good against fast bowling in particular and few played the short delivery better than him," Kumble said.

An astute skipper himself, Kumble felt his former Australia counterpart was a brilliant team man too. "As a captain he was always under pressure especially while playing in Australia. He had a brilliant team and the results followed, but when those key players retired I feel his approach didn't change."

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