Ponting warns of spin 'smoke screen'

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The Independent Online

Australia captain Ricky Ponting said he was wary of India's spin attack for the opening Test – which was due to start in the early hours of this morning – and cast doubts over claims that Harbhajan Singh was due to miss the match with an ankle injury.

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni had said Harbhajan was unlikely to be fit, but Ponting – who watched the spinner practise on the day he was said to have twisted his ankle – was not so sure. "India might be trying to put up a smoke screen," said Ponting, who added that the hosts still had other top spinners like Amit Mishra and Pragyan Ojha available.

Australia had a disrupted lead-up to the Test, with batsman Michael Hussey and left-armer Doug Bollinger arriving only a few days ago due to having played in the Champions League Twenty20 tournament in South Africa.

Ponting said a good start was imperative in a short series, which will be followed by three one-day internationals. "India is a tough opponent and playing them is a great thing for the game," he said.