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Ponting returns for crucial Sydney match

cricket Updated: Feb 08, 2009 05:51 IST

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Faced with the prospect of back-to-back ODI series defeats, Australia on Saturday recalled regular skipper Ricky Ponting for the crucial third one-dayer of the five-match cricket series against New Zealand in Sydney on.

Trailing 0-2 in the series, a desperate Ponting pleaded to be recalled after being rested for the first two matches as part of a long-term workload planning.

"Ricky has on Saturday made a strong appeal to be allowed to play given that this is a "decider" game. Given the circumstance, we have made an on balance decision to support his request and we will continue to monitor his workload closely," National Selection Panel chairman Andrew Hilditch said in a statement.

"It should be noted that selectors were pleased with Michael Clarke's leadership and batting form in Melbourne, where he was man-of-the-match, but this decision will bolster our batting. We also understand Ricky's desire to lead from the front.

A defeat tomorrow would see Australia lose six matches in a row only for the second time in their ODI history. Ponting's men have already lost the top spot in ICC ODI rankings to South Africa after losing a five-match series against the Proteas last month and have now slumped to third behind India.

Hilditch also said the squad for the remaining two ODIs will be announced after reviewing Sunday's performance.