Australia in confident mood
But captain warns team they must keep improving
Last Updated: 24/10/09 8:52am
Ponting: hungry for more success
Ricky Ponting is expecting Australia to come under pressure during the seven-match one-day international series in India.
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"At the moment we have been playing some consistently good one-day cricket and I expect that to continue in India. We need to keep improving and we need to be at our best in this series."
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The tourists arrive in prime form having won the ICC Champions Trophy and hammered England 6-1 away from home in one-day cricket during the last two months.
They now have their sights fixed on India and skipper Ponting is optimistic of further success, starting with the series opener in Vadadora on October 25.
"There have been some ups and downs over the last two years in Test and one-day cricket," he said.
"At the moment we have been playing some consistently good one-day cricket and I expect that to continue in India.
"We need to keep improving and we need to be at our best in this series.
"We know the Indian team will play well in their conditions.
"Their fast bowlers, even if they haven't got the class of the likes of Zaheer Khan around, will find a way to do the job. That's what it's all about at the international level."
Australia arrived in India with a depleted side with vice-captain Michael Clarke, wicketkeeper batsman Brad Haddin and middle-order batsman Callum Ferguson all ruled out due to injury.
Ponting believes Australia's fortunes will rest heavily on how the middle-order copes with India's spinners.
"As a batting group, it's for us to make sure that we do the best that we can to stay on top of the Indian bowlers and not give them much of an opportunity in the series," he added.
"The challenges that we face in the next couple of weeks will probably be how our middle-order batsmen play the Indian spinners.
"Michael Hussey has played a lot of cricket here, Shane Watson and Tim Paine play spin well. Our record in one-day cricket in the subcontinent is good.
"But, we have got a lot of young players, young as far as experience goes, who are finding their feet in international cricket and this series offers them a different set of challenges.
"I have a good record in one-day cricket in India as compared to Tests and a lot of responsibility is on my shoulders as the number three batsman in the team.
"It's really a big challenge to play against India."
Only four points separate Australia and India at the top of the ICC's one-day rankings and India would be guaranteed the top spot should they win the series.
But India's fortunes have fluctuated wildly in the recent past, the first-round exits in the Champions Trophy and the World Twenty20 being tempered by a one-day series victory in the West Indies in between.
India have been strengthened by the return of batsmen Virender Sehwag, however power-hitter Yuvraj Singh is a doubt with a broken finger.
And former national team coach Lalchand Rajput believes the host nation will have their work cut out.
"It will be a closely-contested series and India will find the going tough," he said.
"Australia are on a high and off-spinner Nathan Hauritz, fast bowler Brett Lee and some of their batsmen are in terrific form, as seen in the Champions League Twenty20.
"I think Lee and Ponting will be their trump cards and our youngsters will find it hard to counter their fast bowlers.
"However, Sehwag's form is encouraging and while (Gautam) Gambhir is going through a lean patch, India would need consistently good starts.
"I think the team which takes an early lead will hold the advantage in the series."