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Finisher Faulkner eyes new beginning

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Faulkner eager to resume Australia duties (1:31)

After nearly seven months out of international cricket, James Faulkner was pleased to be back in the team and is ready to play the ODIs in India (1:31)

It was in India in 2013 that James Faulkner truly announced himself as an international allrounder of substance. Most specifically, his Mohali heist gave rise to the nom de plume "the Finisher"; Ishant Sharma and Vinay Kumar would still get whiplash from thinking about it. Though Australia lost the series, Faulkner went on to be a vital player in a winning World Cup campaign in 2015.

Four years on, Faulkner again looks to India for a series of significance, only this time his goal is that of reintroduction and regeneration. It's barely been a few months since Faulkner lost his Cricket Australia contract and was then omitted from the Champions Trophy squad.

The setbacks, at the very least, had the effect of clearing Faulkner's mind about what he needed to do. Principally, this was to get his body right again after more than a year of nursing a damaged knee, to restore snap to his bowling and freedom to his movement between the wickets and on the field. Strong as he now feels, the question remains whether Faulkner can bring his unique brand of brio and tactical intelligence to the pointy end of an ODI.

"Anytime you miss out on selection, it is tough," Faulkner said in Chennai. "I have a good chance now. I had four months away from the game. I had bit of pre-season which has been nice, a bit of time in my own bed, and to get strong and fit again. I have been battling - to be honest - probably the last 18 months, so it's been nice to be home with my team-mates in Tassie and hit the gym hard. Just physically with my knee and the state it has been in. It is as good as it's been at the moment, so I'm pretty happy.

"My training definitely changed. I spent a lot of time on the bike; I haven't spent any time running other than fielding and while bowling in the nets. Have been doing different exercises in the gym, there are certain exercises I can't do but there is a lot I still can. It is about being disciplined with them and training and working hard. Also reflecting on aspects you need work on as a player because everyone has to get better.

"It was pretty tough. I think if you ask any player when you get left out it is not great fun. After a while you are friends and family with your team-mates as well. At the end of the day it is up to you to be back; I am excited to back in the group. I don't really want to talk about the past. It's about this series coming up and a good opportunity against very good opposition in their own country."

In terms of opportunity, Faulkner has the good fortune of knowing that nobody has truly made a spot their own in his absence. Marcus Stoinis played the sort of dominant innings Faulkner would have wished to play at the other end at Eden Park against New Zealand in January this year but has not played since. Moises Henriques was preferred by Steven Smith for the Champions Trophy but did not have the desired impact in a team that was swiftly eliminated. And Mitchell Marsh is currently preparing to captain Western Australia as a batsman only while still recovering from shoulder surgery.

"I didn't get too much feedback to be honest [on why he was dropped]," Faulkner said. "It was about... they said the pace has dropped down a little bit maybe. I bowl a lot of variations, so it's a tough one. I didn't have too much to be honest. I just reflected myself and wanted to get back in the team. I put that aside and worked as hard as I could.

"I suppose for me [my strength] is the variation and the death [overs] as well with both the bat and ball. I don't know about the X-factor, there are a lot of players with the X-factor in both line-ups and that is international cricket. Do as well as I can and play my part in these conditions, which are obviously different from back in Australia."

Australia's Test players are already well-adjusted to the south Indian heat given their recent experiences in Bangladesh, but for Faulkner and other limited-overs operators there will be a little more time required to acclimatise. Snow and ice have been evident in Faulkner's Hobart base in recent weeks, so it was understandable that he had worked up a sweat after training. Another southern stater, the Victorian Aaron Finch, will not play in Australia's sole warm-up match on Tuesday as he nurses a calf niggle.

"We are obviously looking forward to playing a warm-up game before the series starts," Faulkner said. "It is tough conditions here in Chennai, it is hot - I'm here now and I'm still sweating! The boys are eager to get out there and play some good cricket, it is going to be a good series. Last time we were here, we had some good tough cricket, so we are all excited.

"There's a lot of experience in that changing room playing in the subcontinent. Most of the boys have played enough here with the IPL and other series and the T20 World Cup. [India] have played a lot of one-day cricket of late. They are in really good nick right now. It is going to be a test and we're excited for it."

For Faulkner, that excitement is about a second chance to be part of a winning Australian team.