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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Australia call up Khawaja for injured Ponting

Australia call up Khawaja for injured Ponting

December 30, 2010 14:16 IST

Australia called up uncapped batsman Usman Khawaja to replace injured skipper Ricky Ponting on Thursday and confirmed Michael Clarke will stand in as captain for next week's fifth and final Ashes Test in Sydney.

- Ashes 2010 Coverage 

The free-scoring Khawaja was included in the 12-man squad for the Sydney Test and is expected to take Ponting's number three spot in a side desperate to end the series on a high after failing to regain the Ashes.

"It's been a childhood dream for me," the Pakistan-born 24-year-old, who averages 51.7 in first class cricket, said.

"Ever since I can remember, I've wanted to play for Australia. I'm just jumping out of my boots and hoping I get the opportunity... If I get my chance, I'll have fun out there," he added.

Clarke, whose poor form with the bat has mirrored Ponting's own struggles during the series, will lead the side with wicketkeeper Brad Haddin installed as his vice-captain.

"It's a great honour," said Clarke, who made it clear he viewed it as a temporary appointment.

"I've always said Ricky Ponting has been my leader, my captain from day one and I'm certain he'll be back captaining as soon as possible," he added.

Clarke has scored just 148 runs in the first four Ashes Tests and said he was keen to improve on that.

Ricky Ponting"I need some runs," he said. "That's my focus right now, we've got a very important test match starting here in the next couple of days and I make no bones about it, my form has not been good enough this series."

BEER RETENTION

Australia have also named Michael Beer in the squad for the Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), where spinners are traditionally rewarded on the venue's turning wicket.

Doug Bollinger is recalled in place of Ryan Harris, who has been sidelined for up to 12 weeks with an ankle fracture, and will vie with Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus for the likely three places for seamers.

England took an unassailable 2-1 lead in the series with victory in Melbourne on Wednesday to retain the Ashes they won last year on home soil.

Clarke, who has captained his country previously in Twenty20 and One-day Internationals and is the successor-elect to Ponting, said it was vital Australia did well in the final test, which starts next Monday.

"It's very important to try and level this series at 2-2," the 29-year-old said.

"Obviously, we can't win the Ashes but we have a lot we can take out of this Test match.

"Every player is disappointed with our recent results and I can guarantee we'll be 100 per cent focused," he added.

Team: Shane Watson, Phillip Hughes, Usman Khawaja, Michael Clarke (captain), Mike Hussey, Steve Smith, Brad Haddin, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Johnson, Doug Bollinger, Ben Hilfenhaus, Michael Beer.

Source:
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