All the talk in the lead-up to the Test has surrounded Ricky Ponting’s fitness after suffering elbow tendon damage in the third Test against West Indies. He trained well on Thursday and Friday and is more than likely to take his place in the side come Boxing Day. On the off chance he is ruled out, Phillip Hughes will come in. Siddle also looks set to return in place of fellow Victorian Clint McKay after sitting out the WACA Test against West Indies with a hamstring strain. Siddle bowled without trouble in a state one-day match on Wednesday. A long-standing groin problem for Nathan Hauritz has opened the doors for young legspinner Steve Smith, but Australia will give Hauritz time till the morning of the Test before making a final call.
Australia (probable) 1 Shane Watson, 2 Simon Katich, 3 Ricky Ponting (capt), 4 Michael Hussey, 5 Michael Clarke, 6 Marcus North, 7 Brad Haddin (wk), 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 Nathan Hauritz/Steve Smith, 10 Peter Siddle, 11 Doug Bollinger.
Pakistan have no such injury concerns though a niggle to the fourth finger on Danish Kaneria’s spinning hand is being looked at. There is talk in the camp of playing an extra spinner in place of a fast bowler, but that will depend on the surface and a decision is expected later. Pakistan will not readily dismantle the pace trio that served them so well inNew Zealand