Ponting wary of India
Australia captain Ricky Ponting is expecting a tough test from India on home soil.
Last Updated: 20/10/09 8:50am
Australia skipper Ricky Ponting is expecting a stern examination from India during the upcoming seven-match one-day international series, starting in Vadodara on October 25.
India, second behind Australia in the ICC's 50-over rankings, come into the series in poor form having crashed out of the recent ICC Champions Trophy at the group stage.
Australia, in contrast, made a successful defence of the competition to maintain their stranglehold of the global 50-over events.
A rejuvenated Ponting, who revealed he has not touched a cricket bat in 10 days, left Sydney airport for India on Monday evening for a gruelling schedule of seven games in 19 days.
"They'll be particularly hard to beat in India - they always are," Ponting said.
"They definitely play a lot better at home than they do when they travel. I actually tipped them as one of the strongest sides for the Champions Trophy to tell the truth.
"The game against us which was a washout game was shaping up as being a terrific game of one-day cricket and that was something that probably cost India along the way. But that's tournament play - those things can happen.
"I noticed that they've made a few changes to their squad as well for the games against us and we'll obviously be missing Michael Clarke and Nathan Bracken again, and (Callum) Ferguson being out as well means the younger guys will get an opportunity to step up again."
Ponting believes Ferguson's absence with a serious knee injury will be a significant loss but he is confident the remaining members of the middle order can fill the void.
The Tasmanian is also hopeful his deputy Michael Clarke can overcome a nagging back complaint in time to join the squad later in the series.
"I know that he's been, and certainly the medical team have been hoping that he'll be, on improving sooner rather than later. So hopefully he is fit to join the squad as soon as possible," Ponting added.
"He's the number four batsman in the side and the vice-captain of the team and one of the more experienced players that actually handles Indian conditions very well, so we'll keep our fingers crossed."
Ponting, meanwhile, admits he is spoilt for choice at the top of the order following the return of opening batsman Shaun Marsh from a hamstring injury.
Marsh's comeback leaves selectors with a tough decision following the emergence of Tim Paine, who excelled during the Champions Trophy.
"Paine coming in has had a fair bit of success at the top of the order and probably given himself every opportunity to remain there," Ponting observed.
"But if you go back six or seven months Shaun was one of the up-and-coming batsman in our team and someone that's got a very good record at the top of the order for us.
"So we've got some tough decisions to make there but whichever way we go we know we've got very good depth in our batting... so hopefully we get it right on the morning of the first game."