Ponting declares himself fit, Strauss confident of recovery | Pakistan Today

Ponting declares himself fit, Strauss confident of recovery

MELBOURNE – Australia captain Ricky Ponting declared himself fit for the all-important fourth Ashes Test after a strong training session Saturday, saying it could be the match of his career.
Ponting broke the little finger of his left hand while attempting a slips catch during Australia’s series-levelling win in Perth last weekend, putting him in doubt for the must-win Melbourne Test.
But the 36-year-old skipper said his injury was on the mend and he was all but certain of taking the pitch Sunday, expressing surprise at how well he had been able to train.
“I’ve batted a lot in the last two days and I took part in all the fielding stuff out there and just made sure I caught a few balls, just to get used to the feeling of it,” Ponting said after three hours’ training at the MCG, the first compulsory Christmas Day session in his career.
Ponting said he would not take his usual spot at second slip but would “find somewhere where I can keep myself in the game,” likely mid-off. His fitness means uncapped understudy Usman Khawaja is not likely to be required.
Vice-captain Michael Clarke said the mood in the Australian camp was upbeat ahead of the Test. “We’re all hopeful and confident. Unless they cut his finger off, it’s going to be really hard to leave Punter (Ponting) out.”
Australia have yet to name their squad for the much-hyped Melbourne Test, which they must win to remain in the series and which is expected to attract a record crowd of 91,000.
The veteran captain is under pressure to perform in the fourth Test, which he admitted could be the biggest match of his career. “If we lose, probably yes,” said Ponting, when asked about the showdown. “If we win, no one will probably talk about it.”
“We understand where the series is at and we know what we have to do to play well and hopefully we can do it again,” he added. “We set ourselves new standards as far as Test cricket is concerned and we have to maintain those for the next couple of weeks,” he added. Meanwhile, England captain Andrew Strauss said his main strike bowler James Anderson and Steve Finn are fit to play in the crucial fourth Ashes Test.
Anderson had been troubled by a side strain but bowled at close to full pace in the MCG nets on Friday and Saturday and was given the all-clear by Strauss to play in the Melbourne Test. “He had a bit of a niggle but he seems to have got over that,” Strauss told a news conference on Saturday. Finn showed signs of fatigue as Australia claimed a series-levelling win in last week’s third Perth Test.
But Strauss has backed the 21-year-old quick to handle the demands of Sunday’s five-day MCG Test. Strauss said he was confident his team could recover from last week’s 267-run mauling in Perth. “There’s talk of nearly 100,000 people being there. It’s one of the highlights of your career, being able to play at the MCG in a Boxing Day Test. “It’s a big Test match. Our heads have got to be firmly on the cricket.
“We’ll have a couple of hours off on Christmas Day with our families and have a nice lunch but we don’t want to have any regrets, think ‘Oh, we should have prepared better for this Test match’.” Strauss said his batsmen needed to take a patient approach on an MCG drop-in wicket which was expected to play low and slow.

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