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Fired-up James Faulkner back for Australia

Australian Marcus Stoinis plays a shot during the warm-up match against Board President's XI in Chennai yesterday. pic  AFP

Laxman, as quoted by Hindustan Times, made his series prediction and said, "4-1 to India".

With Star Sports anchor Jatin Sapru moderating the panel discussion here on Tuesday to herald the series, Clarke and Laxman batted with the controlled aggression that marked their work at the crease and their interaction was interspersed with light humour.

"They will certainly miss (Mitchell) Starc and (Josh) Hazlewood but in general there are a lot of good players and with a lot of experience of playing IPL cricket here in India". The likes of Smith, David Warner, the support staff; they've got to work towards finding what is the right technique and style for these players.

Asked if this series would actually see the start of the preparations for the 2019 World Cup, Laxman begged to differ.

Faulkner used his time off wisely, putting in a "pre-season" to nurse a troublesome knee back to health."I have been battling, to be honest, for probably the last 18 months, so it's been nice to be home in Tassie (Tasmania) with my team mates there and hit the gym hard", he said.

Smith captained the Pune franchise in the last edition of the cash-rich IPL, arguably the world's most popular Twenty20 tournament. You don't have to be friendly on the field but both the team realise that the best way to beat the other team is by playing aggressive cricket.

Clarke said: "Virat is a better ODI batsman but just about that". The boys are eager to get out there and play some good cricket.

Where there is talent, there will be comparison.

Kohli averages 55.76 in ODIs and 53.82 in T20Is, while Smith has recorded an average of 44.26 in ODIs and 21.55 in the shortest format of the game. "I think over the next few days, everybody would want to speak about Steve Smith vs Virat Kohli, but at the end of the day, it comes down to one thing, and that is the team that wins". "I am very happy how Hardik is taking a lot of burden". Virat also has the advantage of having someone like MS Dhoni in the team.

India pacer Mohammed Shami on Wednesday said India have special plans for Australia, adding a whitewash is not on their minds as the visitors are a strong cricket unit.

Talking about the one player who could make the difference between the teams, Clarke picked Cummins while Laxman couldn't stop gushing about the emergence of Hardik Pandya as the team's finisher, a role that players like Dhoni, Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh had previously revelled in.

The journalist may have been referring to the match being played between Pakistan and the World XI team. It was a team performance to show such an emphatic wins in all the three formats.

Clarke replied, "It is unfair to compare".

I reckon the top three of both teams.

Former India batsman VVS Laxman believes superb form and batting depth make Virat Kohli's Team India the firm favourites to win the upcoming five-match one-day global series against Australia, starting from September 17 in Chennai.