Ponting fit enough to 'play tomorrow'

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The Independent Online

Ricky Ponting will be fit for the World Cup. The Australian captain, speaking at yesterday's Allan Border Ceremony in Melbourne, said he was confident he will have recovered sufficiently from a broken finger to be part of the Australian team when the competition begins in just under two weeks.

Ponting, who sustained his injury in the third Test of the Ashes attempting to take a catch at second slip, said he could "play tomorrow" if need be. "It's a lot better now than it was last week, I've been back in the nets this week, I've had three good hits, a bit of time out there, so it's actually probably a bit further advanced than I thought it would be," the Australian captain said. Asked if he could play tomorrow if an important match was scheduled, Ponting replied: "Yes."

The news may be a mixed blessing for Australia, who have strolled to a 6-1 one-day series victory against England in the absence of their captain. Ponting struggled in the Ashes, averaging just over 16. Ponting said he was pleased with how the team had fared in his absence. "I'm really proud of the way the boys have played the last few weeks, Michael [Clarke's] led the side well and Cameron [White] led the side really well in Perth and we did start to get a few guys back to full fitness at the right time," he said.

Kolkata's Eden Gardens is still not certain to feature as a World Cup venue. England's game against India, scheduled to take place there at the end of the month, was moved to Bangalore after an International Cricket Council delegation said the stadium was underprepared owing to a delay in construction work. The three other games due to take place at the venue are still in doubt after it was inspected again yesterday, when the three-member inspection team was greeted by slogan-chanting fans holding up "Go Back ICC Officials" placards and waving black flags.

"We are confident," said the Cricket Association of Bengal joint secretary, Biswarup Dey. "We took them [the ICC team] to the players' area, press box... everything is now ready and there is nothing incomplete."

The three games still scheduled to be held at Eden Gardens are South Africa v Ireland on 15 March, Ireland v Netherlands on 18 March and Kenya v Zimbabwe on 20 March.