Melbourne: Australia cricket captain Michael Clarke on Saturday declared his team as the favourite to win the ODI tri-series but conceded that it will have to produce its best to nail down world champions India in the opening game on Sunday.
The series features Sri Lanka as the third team.
"We have to play at our best to beat both these teams. They were both in the final of most recent world cup. We`re the number one one-day team in the world so I`d like to think we are favourites," Clarke said today ahead of the opening match.
India, blanked 0-4 in the Test series, finally got something to cheer about when they won the second Twenty20 match against Australia here last night. Clarke praised the effort put in by the beleaguered team.
"India is a very good team...the way they fielded last night is how you need to field in cricket. Fielding is a big part of our game and I certainly wasn`t surprised by how they fielded. They are a very good outfit, there are some really good athletes in that team.”
"That`s the game. Unfortunately, you can`t win every single game."
Clarke said if people were excited about the one-day series, there were enough reasons for it.
"When you`re playing two very good opposition teams, Sri Lanka and India, if I was a fan, I would love to get out there and watch it so I`m expecting people to continue to turn out.”
"It`s probably going to be a little bit harder for the Melbourne people tomorrow considering they have just played a Twenty20 last night. People have got only so much money so a lot of families can`t afford in one weekend to go and watch two big games.”
"We`ll wait and see. If any city is going to turn out, it`s Melbourne though. They`re very supportive of Australian cricket and of sport," he said.
There were 62,000-plus crowd at the MCG to see India beat Australia by eight wickets in the second Twenty20 here last night.
Despite the continuous failures of wicketkeeper Brad Haddin and batsman Shaun Marsh, now omitted for ODIs, Clarke continued to support their credentials, insisting they could force their way back into the team.
"The team has been picked for the first three games so I think the selectors will talk before they select the team for the next group of matches.”
"Hads (Haddin) just need to get back to scoring runs and keeping well. There`s been a lot of talk about it, I don`t think Brad`s that bothered by it. He knows what he has to do, put numbers on the board and I`m sure he will get another opportunity."
"As for Shaun (Marsh), it will be no doubt good for him to go out and try and score some runs. I`ve said for some time he`s a wonderful player and he needs to be scoring runs in all forms of the game. I`m pretty confident Shaun will turn that around.”
"Guys have been picked on performance. They have performed either for their state or Australia. They`ve been given an opportunity and 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."
Clarke said he was in no position to advice how to spread the Twenty20 games across the country especially now that he is not part of set up.
"Obviously I`m not involved in the Twenty20s. So if there is more Twenty20 cricket, then I wouldn`t be required. I`ll get a longer break after the Test series.”
"It`s been the same for a while now in T20 cricket. I think it has probably had a fair amount of success domestically whether that be IPL, Champions League or Big Bash, so I`m not sure what they`re going to do internationally, to be honest."