Australia captain Michael Clarke believes that his team deserves to start as favourites for the triangular series against World Cup finalists India and Sri Lanka that gets underway today here at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).
Clarke cuts a cake during a promotional event on Saturday. Pic/Getty
Australia and India will square off in the Game 1 of the tourney that runs from February 5 to March 8. Clarke was quick to remind all that his team was still the No 1 ranked team in the International Cricket Council (ICC) ODI Rankings. It can be recalled that Australia lost to India in the quarterfinal of last year's World Cup. Only four players from the team that lost that game -- Clarke, ex-captain Ricky Ponting, Mike Hussey and veteran paceman Brett Lee - remain.
Since then, Australia have beaten Bangladesh 3-0, Sri Lanka 3-2, and South Africa 2-1 in ODI rubbers. "We're the No 1 one-day team in the world so I'd like to think that we're favourites," he said on the eve of the game against India.
Have to play at our best
"But in saying that we have to be at our best. We have to play at our best to beat both these teams. They were both in the final of our most recent World Cup. We know the conditions very well in Australia and I'm confident if we play our best cricket we can win this series," added Clarke.
Australia have included Matthew Wade, Peter Forrest in a new-look side that also marks the comebacks of Ryan Harris, David Hussey and Clint McKay. "The team has been picked for the first three games. I think the selectors will talk throughout these first three games before they select the team for the next group of matches.
"I think guys have been picked on performance. I think the guys in the team have either performed for their state or for Australia and have been given an opportunity. In the back of your mind you do need to continue to look forward, but it's important especially against these two teams that we play our best cricket and concentrate on what's in front of us," he added.
Clarke acknowledged that the tourists were a rejuvenated side after the Test matches. "They seem like a totally different side to me. The way they fielded last night (in the second T20) is how you need to field in one-day cricket and Twenty20 cricket and Test cricket to have success. They seem like a very energetic side that is keen to outdo the Test side," Clarke said.