Encouraging net session for Ricky Ponting

Australia captain Ricky Ponting on Friday came through his scheduled net session as he bids to prove his fitness for the fourth Ashes Test at the MCG following a broken finger.

The 36-year-old did not appear to suffer any ill effects after spending around half an hour batting against the bowling machine and also taking some throw-downs.

He did not, however, face any of his team-mates bowling at full pace.

Ponting suffered the fracture during his side's series-levelling win in Perth, when he parried a catch from second slip to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin to dismiss England's Jonathan Trott late on day three. The uncapped Usman Khawaja was added to the squad for Melbourne as cover.

Vice-captain Michael Clarke says Ponting remains confident he will be able to play on Boxing Day - but will still have to wait until Saturday to see how his injury progresses.

"I spoke to him briefly when I was batting beside him and he said he felt pretty good after facing some balls on the machine and from (net) bowlers," Clarke said.

"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.

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