Commonwealth Bank Series 2011-12 February 4, 2012

'I think we're favourites' - Clarke

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

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