"(Khawaja) will just pip Kohli," Ponting told cricket.com.au. "Kohli will play well I'm sure because he does everywhere he goes and had a great series against Australia last time.
"Just where they're starting in Adelaide and Perth – if they leave something in them, Kohli is a bit more vulnerable in those conditions than Melbourne and Sydney."
The last time India played a Test series in Australia, Kohli amassed 692 runs at 86.50 in four Tests, decorated with four centuries. Ponting, who has been quite vocal about his fondness towards Khawaja, said the Queenslander is in superb form and will emerge as the player of the series.
"He's on top of his game, his record in Australia is outstanding," Ponting said of Khawaja, who scored a terrific hundred against Pakistan in UAE in October. "As much of a threat that the Indian fast bowlers might pose, I think he's got a game that can cope with it here in Australia.
"I'm going with him to be the leading run scorer and man of the series.
"Right now he's in a really good place, the selectors backed him through that UAE tour, gave him a chance and he came out (better) on the other side of that. With the skill that he's got and maybe a bit more belief in his own game than ever before, I think he's got the perfect package to have a great summer."
Ponting has also urged all the curators around the country to produce lively or even fast-bowler friendly wickets considering how vulnerable Indian batsmen can be in those conditions.
"I'd love to see the pitches have a little bit in them because I think our batters will bat better against their (bowlers) with something in them than their (batters) will against ours," Ponting explained.
"We're talking 40 years of history with India coming to Australia and not being able to win because of the fast, bouncy nature of our pitches so I'd love to see them that way.
"If it's a wicket in Perth like I saw for the one-dayer against South Africa then I can't see India making too many at all – that was a one-dayer and that (pitch) went all over the shop, with good pace and good bounce. With Adelaide being like it's been the last couple of years, having a little bit more grass in the surface (will suit Australia).
"I'd like to see a little bit of grass left on them for the first two and then I think Australian can put the series to bed after two Tests."
In addition to his endorsement of Khawaja, Ponting believes right-arm pacer Josh Hazlewood will be the series' leading wicket-taker.
"Adelaide and Perth will suit him down to the ground with the way he bowls and the way he presents the seam in those venues," he said. "Being six (foot) five or six (foot) six (tall) as well, he'll exploit the bounce that a lot of Indians won't be comfortable with."
Ponting said both the teams have solid pace attack and it will all boil down to who bats well.
"Basically, it comes down to whichever team bats the best," said Ponting.
"Both fast bowling attacks are good but I think our batsmen will play better against their quicks than their batters will play against ours."
"India need to get off to a really good start (in the series). If they get behind the eight ball if those first two games then … they might fight back and win one Sydney or Melbourne, but it will be too late."
First Published: November 29, 2018, 7:01 PM IST