Kohli recently ended a 1,020-day wait for his 71st international 100 when he hit 122 not outs on 61 balls against Afghanistan in the Asian Cup earlier this month.
“Look, I never say never with Virat because you know that once he’s up a bit, you know how hungry he is and how much he loves success. I’ll never say never that’s for sure,” said the two-time Aussie World Cup winning skipper.
Over the course of its century, Kohli equaled Ponting’s feat of 71 tons. Kohli now has only one name left on the list of most centuries above him: Tendulkar.
Thirty international centuries may be a lot, but Ponting said: “I still think he has several years ahead of him, but I think he’s still 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 in a few one-days, maybe the odd T20 on top,” added the 47-year-old.
With Kohli back at his best, there is now a debate as to whether he should open in place of KL Rahul, who is struggling to get into rhythm after coming back from injury.
Kohli has opened for India in nine T20Is, scoring 400 runs at an average of 57.14 and an excellent strike rate of 161.29.
“The question that we keep asking ourselves is — I’m sure the Indian selectors are asking the same question — is that going to cause more problems than we thought now that Virat is getting 100 to open the battle? What are we going to do next to the World Cup?
“So there are a few other questions that are probably asked on the back of that wonderful 100 he made. In fact, he said he was surprised himself that the first 100 back was actually in a (T20I) game. He thought that was would be the last option he would have to score his first hundred in a few years.”
Kohli returned to the Indian team in the Asian Cup after a month-long hiatus.
Team India will face Australia in three T20Is, starting in Mohali on Tuesday. They will then face South Africa in three ODIs and T20Is before flying to Australia.
Asked if Kohli should rest again, “Yeah, that’s a really good question and that’s probably one only he could answer,” Ponting said.
“It will just depend on how he feels mentally again.
“When you’re playing, you don’t realize how tired you are until you step back because you’re always bluffing yourself and convincing yourself that you’re 100 percent right physically and mentally.
“Sometimes you’re not around there. And I think Virat really came out and said that, he just didn’t realize how bad a space he was until he got that extended break.
“If he continues to score points now, I’m sure he will play the next series. If he plays that and plays well and starts to get a bit of a part, I think he wants to keep playing. I want to keep that momentum going.
“But once he’s a little bit skinny again, it’s probably in his best interest and in India’s best interest to try and refresh him mentally as much as they can if they can go into the World Cup,” Ponting added.