Aaron Finch says Australia deserve to be regarded as the world's best one-day side as they look to exploit India's perceived weakness against fast bowling on a lively Perth pitch in the opening 50-over fixture of a five-match series on Tuesday.
Australia had their final training session – there is an optional one the day before the match – on Sunday before taking on India, who have cruised to T20 and 50-over wins in recent days against a WA XI.
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Josh Hazlewood bowled with good pace and rhythm off his long run, a sure sign he will spearhead an attack light on household names as a result of retirement, rest and injury.
Newcomers Joel Paris and Scott Boland – the latter of whom is, according to Finch, in the "form of his career" – as well as eight-gamer Kane Richardson all bowled enthusiastically to Australia's top-order batsmen. It is expected one of the three will be omitted for the final XI, given James Faulkner is set to give Steve Smith another pace-bowling option to go with his lusty hitting.
Finch said he didn't mind the nervous tension within the squad at the moment, given there were so many fresh faces since the successful World Cup campaign last year.
Much has been made of Australia's depleted bowling stocks heading into the series. Finch, however, said it would be an opportune time for a pack of keen youngsters to let rip on the most fast-bowler friendly deck in the country against a side which is unproven in Australian conditions.
"There's still a bit of extra bounce and that's something that we'll have to adjust to and we can try and exploit that straight away in the first game of the series," Finch said. "I think that can go a long way to winning a match. There's a lot of youth in the group, so there's a lot of excitement. Anytime that guys are making their debut or have been in the squad, it's a really exciting time for everyone."
With the World Cup in the bag and the ICC top one-day ranking covered, the Australians are viewing this series against India as more or less a first chapter to future World Cup glory in 2019. They are hardly worried about being the hunted, with Finch saying the hard work of the last few years has most certainly paid off.
"It's a great challenge and I think that when you have that tag, it means you've played good cricket," Finch said. "It means you're favourites or there's excitement around your team because you've played so well in the past and I think that's something we can hang our hat on. We deserve that tag and there's no reason why there shouldn't be a big build-up and amount of excitement around our team."
The sight of Mitchell Johnson anywhere near the WACA Ground is enough to strike fear into the heart of all touring batsmen, especially those from India, who in the past have been susceptible to high-quality fast bowling.
If the Indian squad saw vision of Johnson making an appearance at Australian training on Sunday morning, they were able to breathe a sigh of relief when they realised the retired left-armer was actually there in a social capacity, playing with daughter Rubika instead of sending down thunderbolts in the nets.
"I was pretty happy he wasn't bowling in the nets to be honest," Finch said with a smile. "It's not great if you're facing the quicks at the time because they're all trying to impress him and rip your head off."
Finch, who despite leaving the Renegades to join the national squad in Perth, is still among the top run-scorers in the Big Bash with 246 runs at 49.20, including three half-centuries. He said he was eager to translate his T20 form into the slightly longer limited-over format.
"I've played quite well," Finch said. "I've adjusted a couple of things slightly [in my technique] that have helped me free up my game a bit. I'm really confident going into this series."