Ponting doubtful for ODI series opener on Saturday

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Bangalore, Sep 27 (UNI) Dogged by injuries World Champions Australia begins a crucial ODI tour of India playing the first of the 7-match series here on Saturday with captain Ricky Ponting still not passed fit to play in the first game.

Speaking to newspersons here, the Aussie captain, who did not play in the Twenty-20 World Cup semifinals due to a hamstring strain, said he would do some training today and tomorrow before the Saturday match and hope for the best.

The Aussie skipper is not yet passed fit to play in the first match here on Saturday and Ponting recovering 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 here on Saturday," he said.

The Australian team's build up to the series had been not good as there had been 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 doesn't 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 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 Twenty-20 World Cup worsened the injury problems faced by Australia.

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. We are feeling the heat of two guys suffering from hamstring injuries. But there is not excuse of losing in the Twenty-20 world cup as we had four months of training before going to South Africa," he added.

UNI

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