Ponting out, Watson in as Aussies falter - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Ponting out, Watson in as Aussies falter

By Philip Henderson 19/09/2007 06:35:05 PM Comments (0)

Ricky Ponting's dream of lifting the inaugural Twenty20 World Championship trophy is over and Australia's might be soon as well after the skipper was ruled out of the tournament through injury.

Ponting suffered a grade-one hamstring strain while batting in Australia's six-wicket loss to Pakistan at Wanderers on Tuesday.

The defeat leaves Australia's title hopes precariously placed, with the one-day world champions needing to beat fellow 2007 World Cup finalists Sri Lanka in Cape Town on Thursday to qualify for the semi-finals.

Ponting is also in doubt for the seven-game one-day tour of India starting at the end of the month with team physio Alex Kountouris saying the skipper could miss as many as four weeks with the injury.

He is expected to be replaced by Shane Watson for the Sri Lanka game, with the allrounder finally given the all clear to play after nursing his own hamstring strain for over a fortnight.

Remarkably, the injury was Ponting's first hamstring strain after more than a decade of international cricket.

"Over the next three to five days we'll have a much better indication of where it's heading so we'll know whether he'll have to go home or be able to go to India," said Kountouris.

"Hopefully he'll take some part in the tournament in India. The best case scenario is a couple of weeks. The worst case scenario is four weeks.

"It happened when he was running between wickets. He just took off for a run and felt it a bit. He was stretching his left leg because he wasn't sure if there was a problem.

"I don't think he's had a hamstring strain before. He wasn't really sure what it feels like."

Ponting had only arrived in South Africa two days before the tournament began last week because of a health issue with his wife, but Kountouris said the skipper's late arrival, or the fact the injury came early in the season after a four-month break, were unlikely factors in the injury.

"I think it can happen anytime. We get them anytime in a season," Kountouris said.

"If he got injured in game one, I think you could probably say that, and we all had our hearts in our mouths in the first game.

"But he's been here for a week now ... so really I couldn't say with confidence that it had anything to do with it. It's just coincidence."

Only hours before Ponting broke down, Kountouris had given Watson the green light to resume playing after the Queenslander passed his final fitness test by sprinting and bowling four overs at 100 per cent.

Watson's inclusion would give Australia five frontline bowlers against Sri Lanka - a bonus considering part-timers Andrew Symonds and Michael Clarke went for 44 runs from 3.1 overs against Pakistan, and have both been hit for nearly 10-an-over during the tournament.

"If it was an ODI tournament, we'd probably wait just a bit longer to wait for him to bowl a bit more, but I think he's done enough and he's right to go," Kountouris said of Watson's recovery.

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