Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting is of the opinion that Virat Kohli is the number one batsman in the world right now because Steve Smith is out of international cricket for now.

“Right now, he is the best because Steve Smith is not there. If Steve Smith was playing now, there would have been no doubt,” he said

When asked about Smith’s contribution, Ponting applauded the right-handed batsman that he led the team to big wins with his batting.

“I respect Smith a lot and what he’s done in the last three or four years with his game is really commendable. The way he has played all the way is really appreciable,” Ponting said.

Describing last year’s Ashes series where Smith made 687 runs in seven innings, the two-time World Cup-winning skipper said, “Performing to your full potential in one of the biggest rivalries in international cricket speaks highly about Smith’s capabilities”.

Smith along with David Warner and Cameron Bancroft is serving a ban from international cricket after being involved in the ball tampering scandal at the third Test against South Africa at Cape Town.

Smith and Warner were smacked with one-year ban each by Cricket Australia.

Smith has so far scored 23 Test hundreds at an average of 61.37. He accumulated 687 runs, including three hundreds, during the last Ashes series. Kohli, on the other hand, has hit 21 hundreds at an average of 53.40.

Smith has 23 tons in 64 Tests and averages 61.37. While Kohli, who has played 66 Tests, two more than Smith, has 21 tons and a batting average of 53.40.

However, when it comes to white-ball cricket, Kohli is far ahead than the Australian batter. In 208 ODIs, Kohli has 35 centuries and averages 58.10. While Smith, who has played 108 ODIS, has scored only eight centuries and has a batting average of 41.84. In T20Is, the gap is even wider as Kohli averages 48.88 to Smith’s 21.55.