Allrounder bats for first time since calf injury April 13, 2007

Watson aims for New Zealand

Cricinfo staff

Be careful: Shane Watson is almost back to full training after hurting his leg © AFP

Ricky Ponting is hopeful Shane Watson, the injured allrounder, will be available for Australia's final Super Eights game against New Zealand next Friday. Watson has returned to batting in the nets after hurting a calf against Bangladesh and his importance to the side is one of the reasons why the team management has been patient in monitoring his progress.

Without Watson Australia become batsman heavy - Brad Hodge was the No. 7 against England and they picked only four specialist bowlers - but Ponting is not concerned if his return is delayed until the second-last stage. "He is such a crucial part of our set-up and the balance of our side that maybe bringing him back in for a semi-final is not such a big deal after all," Ponting said in The Age.

Watson is expected to begin bowling after Australia's game with Ireland on Friday and he has started to jog. "He was telling me that all the weight-bearing stuff he is doing he has no issues with," Ponting said in The Australian. "It looks like he is coming along very well."

Ponting said they would need to decide whether to impose a cut-off time for him to regain fitness. "We have said for the last two weeks that it's going to be before that New Zealand game," he said. "Hopefully he is right for that."