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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 September 2018

Series with Kohli's India to be played 'in good spirit', says Australia's Smith

Australia captain says repeat of unpleasantness during Test series against India this year unlikely.

Virat Kohli will be the Indian player whose wicket Australia will most want. Eranga Jayawardena / AP Photo
Virat Kohli will be the Indian player whose wicket Australia will most want. Eranga Jayawardena / AP Photo

Australia captain Steve Smith is anxious to halt the acrimony that marked Test matches against India this year when the two powerhouses start a one-day international series on Sunday.

Smith had a much-publicised war of words with India counterpart Virat Kohli when Australia lost the Test series 2-1 in March.

The combative Australian said ahead of the first one-day clash in Chennai that he hoped the five-match series would be played in "good spirit".

During a Test in Bangalore this year, Kohli expressed displeasure after Smith looked up to his own dressing room - where replays could be seen by teammates - while deciding whether to challenge an lbw dismissal.

Players are not allowed to have outside input while challenging an umpire's decision.

While Smith later apologised for his self-admitted "brain fade" moment and got the backing from his cricket board, Kohli slammed the Aussies at the last series news conference in Dharamsala.

Steve Smith is confident there will be no trouble between the two teams. Munir Uz Zaman / AFP
Steve Smith is confident there will be no trouble between the two teams. Munir Uz Zaman / AFP

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Later he laments his comments ‘blown out of proportion'

"I think it will be played in good spirit. It is a hard-fought contest playing against India," Smith said of the upcoming series which also features three Twenty20 matches.

"I am not too concerned about the differences with Kohli. He is obviously a very good player and has a phenomenal ODI record.

"Hopefully, we can keep him quiet as much as possible in this series. If we do that then hopefully it can go a long way in us having success on this tour," he added.

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Former captain Michael Clarke also saw a "carrot" for the Australians, who will topple South Africa from top spot in the ODI table if they can beat India 4-1. A reverse result will make India No 1.

The tourists, coming out of a tough two-Test series in Bangladesh that ended 1-1, are confident of doing well against the in-form hosts.

Returning all-rounder James Faulkner, looking to resurrect his career after losing a central contract, believes stints by Smith and other Australians in the Indian Premier League will help.

"There's a lot of experience in that changing room playing in the subcontinent. Most of the boys have played enough here with the IPL and other series and the T20 World Cup," Faulkner said.

The right-hand batsman and left-arm bowler is set to bolster Australia's pace attack along with Nathan Coulter-Nile and Pat Cummins.

Left-arm Ashton Agar took four wickets and batsman Marcus Stoinis hit a blazing half-century in the only warm-up game in Chennai on Tuesday to lay their claims for a starting place.

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Meanwhile, batsman Peter Handscomb has been added to Australia's one-day squad in India as cover for the injured Aaron Finch, Cricket Australia said on Friday.

Finch aggravated his right calf during Australia's warm-up on Thursday and pulled out of the rest of the training session to ice the damaged muscle.

The aggressive opener will not be available for the opening games of Australia's five-match ODI series against India this month.

"Aaron has had a scan in Chennai and although we believe it is not a serious recurrence, he will not be available for the first few one day matches here in India," team physio Alex Kountouris said in a statement.

"He will remain with the squad whilst we assess the injury and establish his return to play timelines."

India are in rampaging form after having recently blanked Sri Lanka 9-0 in Tests, one day games and T20.

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They will again bank on rookie spinners Axar Patel and Yuzvendra Chahal to counter the Australian batting, with veterans Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja still rested.

India's fast bowling line up looks more experienced than their opponents' after the return of pace spearhead Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav.

"We have some plans for each of their batsmen - especially Smith and [David] Warner. The key is about executing it on the field," Shami said.

"Australia are a strong team. It's difficult to say that [a clean sweep] but we will try our best for a good show. The conditions will play a big role," he added.

Australia lost their ODI series in India 3-2 in 2013, but humbled India 4-1 at home in 2016.

Squads

India (for first three ODIs) Kohli (capt), Rohit, Rahul, Pandey, Jadhav, Rahane, Dhoni, Pandya, Axar, Kuldeep, Chahal, Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar, Umesh, Shami.

Australia Smith (capt), Warner, Agar, Cartwright, Coulter-Nile, Cummins, Faulkner, Finch, Head, Maxwell, Richardson, Stoinis, Wade, Zampa.

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