Aussies receive Ponting boost ahead of WC

Melbourne, Jan 29 (PTI) In an "encouraging" news ahead ofthe World Cup, Ricky Ponting is said to be recovering fastfrom his finger injury but team physio Alex Kountouris iscautious about taking Australian skipper back to the nets.

Ponting, who broke his finger during the miserable Ashesseries, was assessed by Melbourne specialist Greg Hoy, who hasadvised Kountouris to step up his rehabilitation.

"We saw the specialist yesterday and he was reasonablyhappy with how Ricky is going. It''s an encouraging sign. We''llsee what happens in the next week or two," Kountouris said.

"We''ll progress to the next stage now. We''ll get his handmoving a bit and get it out of the splint, hopefully by theweekend. We expect Ricky to be right for the World Cup, butit''s when he is right to bat again.

"Until he picks up the bat again you don''t know (how) hishand will respond. He might do it and be fantastic or it mightblow up and we''ll have to slow down his recovery," Kountourissaid.

The physio, though, was confident that Ponting will befit to take on Zimbabwe during the team''s World Cup opener onFebruary 21.

"Ricky''s finger looks good. Once he starts batting he''llbe fine, but we need to get there first," Kountouris wasquoted as saying by ''Herlad Sun''.

The right hander may, however, still miss the couple ofwarm-up matches ahead of the cricketing extravaganza to shieldhis finger but his positive progress will buoy the team''sspirits even as some of the key members are racing against thetime to be fit for the tournament.

Off-spinner Nathan Hauritz, paceman Shaun Tait and everdependable Michael Hussey are all recuperating from injuries,casting shadow over their availability for the mega event. PTISNK AT

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