Ponting doubtful for first ODI

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Bangalore, Sep 27 (UNI) Dogged by injuries World Champions Australia would begin their crucial ODI tour of India, playing the first of the seven-match series here on Saturday, with captain Ricky Ponting still iffy to feature in the opening game.

Speaking to newspersons here, the Aussie captain, who did not play in the Twenty20 World Cup semi-finals due to a hamstring strain, said he would do some training today and tomorrow before the match and ''hope for the best''.

The Aussie skipper has not yet passed the fitness test to play on Saturday and his recovery in time is still doubtful.

''I am not ruled out for the first game yet. We have a few injury problems and some niggles bothering us but hopefully everything would clear up by the time of the second game. We are hoping to win the series and want to start on a winning note in the first match,'' he said.

The Australian team's build up to the series was marked by a series of injury problems. Star one-day batsman Mike Hussey is out of the team due to a serious injury problem, while Ponting is still nursing the hamstring stress. All rounder Shane Watson also does not figure in the squad with a similar injury while fast bowler Shaun Tait is excluded due to an elbow problem.

Brad Hodge and Brad Hiddin are carrying niggling hamstring soreness giving more headaches to the team management. Fast bowler Nathan Bracken would start the tour late as he has gone to Australia for his first child's birth.

Hectic format in the Twenty20 World Cup worsened the injury problems faced by the Aussies.

Ponting said the team was affected due to soft nature of the outfield in South Africa and lot of travel.

''The soft ground conditions and more travelling and flying than other teams caused serious problem for us. We are feeling the heat of two guys suffering from hamstring injuries. But there is no excuse of losing in the Twenty20 World Cup as we had four months of training before going to South Africa,'' he added.

UNI

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