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Australian captain Ponting set to be fit for MCG Ashes clash

Ricky Ponting bats in the nets during practice on Friday in Melbourne.
Ricky Ponting bats in the nets during practice on Friday in Melbourne.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Australian captain Ricky Ponting comes unscathed through practice session on Friday
  • Ponting broke the little finger in his left hand during third Test win in Perth
  • James Anderson looks set to take his place in England team
  • Test record crowd of 91,000 expected at MCG on Boxing Day

(CNN) -- Ricky Ponting looks set to lead Australia into the Boxing Day Test against England at the MCG despite a broken finger.

Ponting came through a batting practice session in Melbourne on Friday, spending about half an hour in the indoor nets before venturing outside to further test the injury.

The 36-year-old suffered the mishap to the little finger of his left hand as he attempted to catch a ball on the final day of his side's triumph in the third Test in Perth.

The victory leveled the five-match series at 1-1, making the Christmas clash all the more important.

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Australia vice-captain Michael Clarke is confident Ponting will be fit to play on Sunday.

We are all very hopeful that unless they cut his finger off, it is going to be really hard to leave 'Punter' out
--Michael Clarke
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"We are all very hopeful and pretty confident that unless they cut his finger off, it is going to be really hard to leave 'Punter' out," he told gathered reporters.

"I think he is going to have to wait until tomorrow to see how it pulls up after having a bat today, but he is pretty happy with how things went."

The uncapped Usman Khawaja has been added to the Australian squad as cover for Ponting.

Meanwhile, England's injury worry James Anderson also appears to be winning his fitness battle.

The 28-year-old pace bowler suffered a side strain in the defeat in Perth, but came through an hour-long net session Friday.

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"Jimmy seems absolutely fine," said captain Andrew Strauss. "He's done quite a lot of bowling, but it (the side strain) has settled down nicely."

Anderson's fitness is key to England's hopes, the tourists having already lost fellow fast bowler Stuart Broad for the rest of the series due to injury.

Organizers at the MCG are expecting an official Test record 91,000 crowd for the first day of the match.