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Ponting retained for India Test

Australia have dropped batsmen Phillip Hughes and Usman Khawaja for the Boxing Day Test against India at Melbourne, but former captain Ricky Ponting retains his place in a 13-man squad. Hughes and Khawaja were omitted after the humiliating defeat by New Zealand earlier this month in Hobart.

Uncapped Tasmania opener Ed Cowan is set for a Test debut in place of the injured Shane Watson, while seamer Ben Hilfenhaus and batsman Shaun Marsh are recalled. All-rounder Dan Christian, who played three Twenty20 internationals in 2010 but has yet to feature in a Test, remains an option after he was named 12th man against the Kiwis.

Of Ponting's retention, coach Mickey Arthur said: "Ricky is still fit enough, and providing he's scoring runs, he can play a role in that Ashes series in 2013 – but the ball is in his court."