Johannesburg: Australian vice-captain Michael Clarke has been ruled out of the ongoing Champions Trophy because of a back problem.
Clarke has experienced back soreness since the end of the tour of England and missed Australia's first two pool games, against the West Indies and India.
Australia are unsure why his latest bout of back soreness has dragged on for over a week and hope the rest will make him ready him for October's one-day tour of India.
"It's disappointing to lose one of your better players and your vice-captain, but the guys who have played the last couple of games have done a pretty good job so we've just got to look at what we've got," Fox Sports quoted captain Ricky Ponting, as saying.
Australia's wash-out with India on Monday means Ponting's side (three points) can be eliminated if they lose to Pakistan (four), plus India (one) thrash the West Indies in Wednesday''s day-nighter.
"We know what we have to do, which is win the game," Ponting said.
"We're probably a little bit disadvantaged in the fact that India and the West Indies are playing later in the day and if we don't happen to win the game, India will know exactly what they have to do to get their run-rate ahead of ours.
"There's nothing we can do about it, but I'm pretty confident we can beat Pakistan anyway even though they're playing pretty well at the moment."
Clarke, 28, has a history of back problems and Australia physiotherapist Alex Kountouris felt the latest bout was due to a bulging disc.
Clarke cannot bend down without experiencing pain, but Kountouris ruled out surgery.
"Surgery is usually for people who have a lot of leg pain and months and months of debilitating back pain before you'd consider going down that path," he said.
"At this stage we're just trying to get him up for the next tour (of India) and he may or may not get up for that."
Clarke's soreness is also a blow for New South Wales, as he is in doubt to represent his state in the inaugural Champions League Twenty20 tournament, also in October.
He is the second injured Australia player sent home from this tournament, after paceman Nathan Bracken left last week because his degenerative knee condition flared.
The selectors will discuss a possible replacement, but Australia do have a reserve batsman in Adam Voges.