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Ponting injured as Australia lose

Australia's hopes of claiming the Twenty20 World Championship have received a double blow with skipper Ricky Ponting in doubt for the rest of the tournament with a hamstring injury sustained in today's six-wicket loss to Pakistan.

Australia were held to 7-164 at Wanderers after being asked to bat before Pakistan cruised to victory with five balls to spare, courtesy of an unbroken 119-run fifth-wicket partnership between captain Shoaib Malik (52no off 38) and Misbah-ul-Haq (65no off 32).

Stuart Clark claimed 3-27 for Australia, while little-known Pakistan pace bowler Sohail Tanvir, a late call-up to the squad after Shoaib Akhtar was sent home for disciplinary reasons, earlier took 3-31.

The loss means Australia must beat Sri Lanka in their final game of the Super Eighths in Cape Town on Thursday to qualify for the semi-finals.

They may have to do it without their skipper, after Ponting pulled up with a left hamstring strain while batting.

He needed a runner for the final few balls of his innings and then did not come out to field, with Adam Gilchrist left to captain the side. Ponting was expected to undergo scans tonight.

Michael Hussey top scored with 37, adding 68 from 40 balls for the fifth wicket with Brad Hodge (36).

Ponting (27) and Andrew Symonds (29) earlier added 48 for the third wicket, but Australia struggled to keep their score ticking along at times.

They went nearly five overs without a boundary during the middle stages while hitting just one six in the innings and scoring 14 runs from the final three overs on a pitch considered the best batting wicket of the three grounds being used for the tournament.

In reply, Pakistan raced to 0-25 after three overs before Clark dismissed both openers in the space of just four balls.

He had figures of 3-6 in his second over and when Mitchell Johnson (1-19) dismissed Salman Butt for 11 in the seventh over, Pakistan were struggling at 4-46.

Malik and ul-haq, though, steadied the innings, and then took off.

Ul-Haq smashed seven boundaries and one six in his innings, while Mailk battered four boundaries and two sixes, with the pair's record 119-run stand coming off just 78 balls.

Pakistan have now won two from two in the Super Eights stage after their 33-run victory against Sri Lanka on Monday.

They play Bangladesh in their final Super Eights match in Cape Town on Thursday and should now top the group, ensuring they stay at Newlands for the semi-finals on Saturday.

source - smh.com.au
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