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Michael Clarke says chase for top ODI ranking will cure any Ashes hangovers

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James Pattinson is on the bench and Mitchell Johnson on ice, but Australian captain Michael Clarke is adamant any Ashes hangovers will be cured by the prospect of reclaiming the No.1 ranking in one-day cricket.

Australia have a chance of finishing the ODI series against England on top of the world, but would need to win at least 4-0 and depend on New Zealand to defeat India in the series that starts in Napier next week.

Alternatively, Australia would have to perform another 5-0 sweep and have India, now No.1, win no more than three of their five games in New Zealand. It's so tight at the top that England could also reach No.1, but captain Alastair Cook has admitted his team is playing for pride following the Ashes debacle.

The end of an Ashes campaign often brings a change of fortune. The losers of the past four Test series have won the subsequent ODI series.

''They're two different teams but for the guys who do play Test cricket, it's quite easy to take your foot off the pedal,'' Clarke said before Sunday's series opener at the MCG.

''I said before the last two Test matches that we as a Test team had a lot to play for because we were ranked fifth at the time and we want to get back to No.1.


''I say the same about this one-day unit. We know we are not the No.1 team in the world at this stage. That is our goal. If you want to be a part of this team, you cannot afford to take your foot off the pedal.

''We as a team have no complacency where you're sitting there expecting that because the result was five-nil in the Test series that the one-day result will be the same. We know England have a very good one-day team.''

With Johnson given the game off following his Ashes heroics, the match is a rare chance for England's batsmen not to worry about the quick who has menaced them since the ODI series in the UK in September.

Pattinson has bowled with serious pace in the Big Bash League since returning to fitness, but the selectors left him out of the XI for the MCG, instead vesting faith in fellow Victorian Clint McKay to overcome his form slump.

McKay was dropped by the Melbourne Stars for their most recent game after going for 9.77 runs per over. He also lacked penetration in the Sheffield Shield before Christmas with six wickets at 63.

Clarke watched McKay bowl in the nets on Friday and backed him to get back to the form that made him Australia's leading wicket-taker in one-day cricket last year.

''Clint has been a very good performer over a long period of time for us and Twenty20 cricket is different to one day cricket. I have a lot of faith and confidence in Clint. I always have. He is the silent assassin through his career. A lot of people haven't taken too much notice but he continues to have success for us. He is very good up front with the new ball.''

Pattinson has not been part of the one day team since September 2012, but this series is likely to be used as a launching pad for the Test tour of South Africa. But the 23-year-old will have to wait for an international comeback as Nathan Coulter-Nile and James Faulkner will round out the pace contingent.

''James certainly is realistic and understands that he's only been back bowling for a couple of weeks in regards to game practice,'' Clarke said. ''He's looking fit and I'm sure he'll play a big part throughout this series.''

Cook had expected to come up against Pattinson, but said the England batsmen could not afford to relax in Johnson's absence.

''Australia have obviously got a lot of strength in their fast bowling so whoever we face they will be a different challenge from Mitch, but they are outstanding bowlers in their own right,'' Cook said.

England will also be undermanned in the pace department. Stuart Broad has been given the first two games off and Jimmy Anderson has gone home, leaving Boyd Rankin, Ben Stokes and Tim Bresnan as the quicks most likely to play.

It remains to be seen whether Steven Finn, who has faded out of sight, will be seen at international level this summer.

''He's a young man who's learning you don't always ride that crest of a wave,'' Cook said. ''He's had a bit of a tough time.''

Australia: David Warner, Aaron Finch, Shane Watson, Michael Clarke (c), George Bailey, Glenn Maxwell, Brad Haddin, James Faulkner, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Clint McKay, Xavier Doherty.

England (possible): Alastair Cook (c), Ian Bell, Joe Root, Ravi Bopara, Eoin Morgan, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Tim Bresnan, Chris Jordan, James Tredwell, Boyd Rankin.

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