Former Australia skipper Michael Clarke has backed Steve Smith’s team to topple India in the coming one-day international series, saying their experience in the Indian Premier League will play a key role.
Ten members of Australia’s 14-man squad for the five-match ODI series played in this year’s IPL, including captain Smith (Rising Pune Supergiant) and David Warner (Sunrisers Hyderabad).
Patrick Cummins (Delhi Daredevils), Aaron Finch, James Faulkner (Gujarat Lions), Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis (Kings XI Punjab), Nathan Coulter-Nile (Kolkata Knight Riders), Adam Zampa (Rising Pune Supergiant) and Travis Head (Royal Challengers Bangalore) were among 21 Australians who had IPL stints in 2017.
Four members of Australia’s squad – Ashton Agar, Hilton Cartwright, Kane Richardson and Matthew Wade – were not selected by IPL franchises.
Clarke, who led Australia in 41 ODIs and was captain of the 2015 World Cup-winning side, believes that experience will prove crucial in the coming series, starting at MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Sunday.
“It’s not just the wicket you are batting on or the ground you are playing, it’s the heat, the food you eat, the hotel you are staying at,” Clarke told reporters.
“(With) these players now being involved in the IPL, India is like a second home because you spend so much time here.
“Yes, it’s a shame we don’t have Mitchell Starc or Josh Hazlewood available, unfortunately due to injury. Those two will be missed.
“But this Australian team has no excuses. They know the conditions really well … and this is a massive series for us.”
While the series pits two heavyweights in the 50-over format against each other – Australia is ranked second and India third – the visitors are also chasing a return to the world No.1 ranking.
Australia was bumped from top spot by South Africa in February after the Proteas powered to a 5-0 victory over Sri Lanka on home soil.
A 4-1 series win or better will propel Australia back to the No.1 position.
Clarke predicted a 3-2 series win for Australia, who are narrowly ahead of Virat Kohli’s charges on the rankings.
Australia prevailed 4-1 when the pair last met in an ODI series in January 2016 in Australia.
India’s most recent ODI series was away against Sri Lanka August-September, with the tourists completing a 5-0 triumph.
The tour will also include three Twenty20 fixtures, starting October 7.
Australia’s Qantas Tour of India
Australia ODI squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner, Ashton Agar, Hilton Cartwright, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Patrick Cummins, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa.
Australia T20 squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner, Jason Behrendorff, Dan Christian, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Patrick Cummins, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Glenn Maxwell, Tim Paine, Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa.
India squad (first three ODIs): Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma (vc), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami.
September 17: MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai
September 21: Eden Gardens, Kolkata
September 24: Holkar Cricket Stadium, Indore
September 28: M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru
October 1: VCA Stadium, Nagpur
October 7: JSCA International Stadium, Ranchi
October 10: Barsapara Stadium, Guwahati
October 13: Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad