Melbourne: Pakistan begins its tour of Australia with the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Saturday.

Fears of Ricky Ponting missing out on the first Test owing to an injured left-elbow were allayed as the captain made it to the nets two days prior to the match.

Michael Clarke, who would take over the reins if Ponting is declared unfit, said that the pitches at the MCG and Sydney (the venue for the second Test), which traditionally take turn, would aid the visitor.

Injury woes

Injuries to key players in the spin department of both teams, however, might give the contest an interesting turn. Danish Kaneria would be hard pressed to make the starting eleven with a finger injury while Australia has drafted in New South Wales leggie Steven Smith as cover for Nathan Hauritz who is struggling to recover from a strained groin. Both countries have their pace batteries intact as Mitchell Johnson, Doug Bollinger and Peter Siddle are likely to retain their spots in the Australian line-up.

Strong domestic show

Strong performances in the domestic circuit have catapulted Mohammad Sami into the reckoning as he would vie for a place with Mohammad Aamer, Umar Gul and Mohammad Asif.

Though Australia come at the back of a 2-0 Test series win over the visiting West Indies, it was forced to stretch on quite a few occasions, while Pakistan drew the three-Test series against New Zealand one-all, away from home.

Pakistan was at the receiving end of a 3-0 whitewash on its last visit to Australia in the 2004-2005 season.

The teams are scheduled to play three Tests, five One-Day Internationals and a lone Twenty20 on the current tour.

More In: SPORT | Today's Paper