Commonwealth Bank Series 2011-12 February 4, 2012

'I think we're favourites' - Clarke

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India won the World Cup last year and Sri Lanka were the runners-up, but Michael Clarke believes Australia deserve to be the favourites for the Commonwealth Bank Series, which starts on Sunday. Clarke is yet to lose a series as captain but the triangular contest looms as a different kind of challenge, and India's influx of new players after the Test debacle has given them some spark.

The series begins with Australia taking on India at the MCG, where MS Dhoni's men on Friday outplayed, and especially outfielded, Australia in the second Twenty20. It was the kind of energetic display that helped India to the World Cup title less than 12 months ago, but since then Australia have won all three ODI series they have played, giving Clarke hope that they can keep that record going.

"We're the No.1 one-day team in the world so I'd like to think that we're favourites," Clarke said. "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."

The Australians have gathered in Melbourne, with six members of the squad who were not part of the T20 outfit having spent time at home over the past few days: Clarke, Ricky Ponting, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Starc, Ryan Harris and the uncapped Peter Forrest. The inclusion of Forrest was one of the talking points in Australia's squad as they aimed for a mix of experience and youth, while Matthew Wade is also in line for his ODI debut.

Wade proved with his 72 opening the batting in the first T20, his 32 batting down the order in the second match and his athletic diving catch to remove Virat Kohli that he is not fazed by stepping up to international level, and he is likely to open with David Warner in the first ODI. That leaves Brad Haddin in a position of uncertainty, having missed the chance to impress with a big score in Friday's rained-out Prime Minister's XI match against Sri Lanka.

"The team has been picked for the first three games," Clarke said. "I think the selectors will talk throughout these first three games before they select the team for the next group of matches. Hadds just needs to get back scoring runs and keeping well, continue to play the way he plays. There's been a lot of talk about it. I don't think Brad's that bothered about it. He knows what he has to do - put numbers on the board and I'm sure he'll get another opportunity.

"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."

For now, that's a match against India in Melbourne on Sunday, followed by their first clash with Sri Lanka in Perth on Friday and then another battle with India in Adelaide two days later.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Nandika on February 7, 2012, 7:53 GMT

    i think aussies have good chance to win this cup but not easy beacuse they lost last time to sri lanka 2-1 ODI series at home.mentally they are afraid to sri lankans. sri lankans and australia are favoirites but graet battle.well according to me indians are not good enogh to play fast and bouce green wickets look at their last two series 4-0 twice.i think SL VS AUS final show to prove who are the best team to win this cup.i think NO 1 test team is australia because they can win matches on any condition any wicket.look at eng they lost to pak.SA they will sure lost to sri lanka if they play in srilankan pitches.

  • SL_Cric on February 5, 2012, 9:05 GMT

    As a Sri Lanken, to me it's very strange to see Mahela as captain. Mahela havent played well for last tenths and because of his place in the team was FAIl, we lost many matches. We had a 39 years old LoW SCoring record during South Africa tour...But Once the MAHELA was dropped from the team for last TWO matches we started to WIN...We won last TWO matches by scoring 300+ TWICE...now Mahela again has come back to the TEAM...now we can EXPECT FAILIERS to continue...BAD TIME again for SRI LANKA.

  • randikaayya on February 5, 2012, 8:53 GMT

    Whatever the outcome, a cracker of a tournament awaits... May the best team win! Goodluck to my Sri Lanka and Maiya!

  • dummy4fb on February 5, 2012, 5:03 GMT

    I dun think so aussies are the fav's... youngsters are back... so india with the full power in batting, bowling n fielding is gonna make tough for both oz's n srilankans.. n moreover there is cycological advantage for india as they registered their series win last time they played in australia...!!

  • rahulcricket007 on February 5, 2012, 4:37 GMT

    @ramesh dharshana parera . keep dreaming .

  • contactmhatre on February 5, 2012, 3:59 GMT

    Oh yeah! The Oz are favorites, as they have good options in every department. Indians are playing a gamble with ugly spinners on a bouncy land.

  • eyballfallenout on February 5, 2012, 3:10 GMT

    WHATS REFRESHING FOR ME IS WE NOW HAVE SL FANS ON THE BOARD. The comments are fair, honest and respectful to the other teams. Good luck Sri Lanka and your fans.

  • maxximoo on February 5, 2012, 2:38 GMT

    time for some facts! IND are #2 ODI side according to ICC world rankings and a long way behind AUS (130/117). SL are #4. #3 are RSA. I agree it would be an awesome quadrangular with them here. Indian fans - keep chanting 'world champs' with all your might while you can! Next world cup in AUS and i dont think BCCI has quite enough power to force ICC to let you play your matches at home this time. I doubt you will make the finals. Enjoy your short stay at the top :P. meanwhile lets see some good competitive cricket from all 3 pleeeease!

  • dummy4fb on February 5, 2012, 1:52 GMT

    India's performance depends on 2 factors 1)Opening partnership (need gambhir & sachin to open ,kholi,shewag,dhoni,raina,jadeja ,irfan,ashwin,zaheer,vinay or rahul sharma or praveen kumar , 2) Opening bowling (first 15 overs) no freebies {short and wide} as warner anyway is a player who can destroy any bowling and ashwin needs to use all his skills to apply pressure bowling tight, we need wickets in first 15 to put pressure .If shewag/raina fails in 2-3 matches then rohit sharma gets chance,jadeja will be effective against aussies not so against lanka,

  • dummy4fb on February 5, 2012, 0:03 GMT

    Sri Lanka vs Aus final with Sri Lanka winning the tournament

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