Australian captain Ricky Ponting will miss his side's first one-dayer against Sri Lanka in Melbourne on Wednesday due to the fact that his grandmother passed away. Ponting will be flying down to his native place of Tasmania for the his relative's funeral before rejoining the team at Sydney for the second ODI. In his absence, vice captain Michael Clarke will captain the side for the first of the three one-day matches.
"I won't be playing tomorrow's game," Ponting said at the MCG on Tuesday. "My grandmother down in Launceston has passed away on the weekend. The funeral is down in Launceston tomorrow. I'll be flying out tomorrow morning to attend the funeral and then flying straight back to the ground tomorrow afternoon."
Ponting was a bench-warmer during Australia's recent one-dayer against India and has not played an ODI since the July series in England. On the previous occasion when Clarke captained Australia, he made 98 as an opener in a loss against New Zealand at Melbourne.
The Australians have not yet decided on the starting line-up for the first ODI after their practice session on Tuesday was disrupted by rain. Nevertheless, Tasmanian spinner Xavier Doherty is all set to make his international debut, a week after taking a five-for in teh Sheffield Shield at the very same ground.
"There's no doubt that he's been probably the best performed spinner in Australia in the shorter forms of the game for the last few years now," Ponting said of his state team-mate Doherty. "He's become a matchwinner for Tassie in that period of time. With Hauritz being away and having played that Shield game, Hauritz won't play the game tomorrow, so Doherty will play if the weather is not too inclement for the spinners."
Australia have regained many premier players including Michael Hussey and Mitchell Johnson.The hosts are aiming to reverse their losing streak, having not won an international match since the Lord's Test against Pakistan in July.