Melbourne:Ricky Ponting is expected to recover from his broken finger in time to lead Australia at the MCG on Boxing Day, but the selectors have included New South Wales batsman Usman Khawaja in the squad as a precautionary measure. Khawaja, who just turned 24, is uncapped and will join the team in Melbourne on Wednesday.
"While the NSP (national selection panel) are confident Ricky Ponting will be available for the Boxing Day Test, through an abundance of caution we have named Usman Khawaja as the standby player," Andrew Hilditch, the chairman of the panel, said. "Usman richly deserves this opportunity following his excellent form at domestic level last season and continuing on this season."
Ponting sustained the injury when he dropped Jonathan Trott at second slip on the third afternoon at the WACA, with the rebound popping up to Brad Haddin. X-rays showed a small crack and he spent the morning of his 36th birthday in the dressing room to protect the injury. He walked out after the victory had been secured to level the series at 1-1 and congratulated his team-mates.
Ponting also hasn't been in form with the bat, scoring 83 runs in six innings in this series, and averaging 38.95 in 24 Tests since the start of last year.
Squad: Shane Watson, Phillip Hughes, Ricky Ponting (capt), Michael Clarke, Michael Hussey, Steven Smith, Brad Haddin (wk), Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle, Michael Beer, Ben Hilfenhaus, Usman Khawaja.