Clarke eager to take on Pakistan in UAE

Michael Clarke is hoping a change in conditions and opposition will help his team after it recently lost home and away ODI series to South Africa.

updated: April 20, 2009 18:03 IST
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Australian stand-in captain Michael Clarke is hoping a change in conditions and opposition will help his team after it recently lost home and away one-day international series to South Africa.

Australia starts a five-match ODI series against Pakistan from Wednesday in the United Arab Emirates due to security concerns in the subcontinental country.

The team is without regular captain Ricky Ponting, batsman Mike Hussey and allrounder Mitchell Johnson _ all rested for the Twenty20 World Cup and Ashes series in England later this year _ but Clarke exuded confidence in his young squad.

"We face a completely different opposition in completely different conditions, so I hope the result will also be completely different," Clarke said Sunday of the 3-2 series loss to South Africa. "We are going to take a lot of strength from our win in the final ODI in South Africa.

"We are not short of talent in Australia and are very fortunate to have some fresh faces who are eager to prove themselves. We will obviously miss guys like Ponting, Hussey and Johnson, but this is a great opportunity for others."

The Pakistan team has played little cricket in the past year because several foreign sides have refused to travel to its country, even before six policeman and a driver were killed when the Sri Lankan team bus was ambushed by a dozen gunmen in March.

"We are just happy to play Pakistan," Clarke said Sunday. "It really doesn't matter where we are playing against them.

"Pakistan may not have played enough international cricket in recent times, but we are all aware they are a very strong squad. We have to be at our best to beat them. Also, it is more like home conditions for Pakistan than for us."

The first match will be at the new cricket stadium in Dubai Sports City, followed by three games at Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. The two teams then play a Twenty20 match in Dubai on May 7.

Clarke said one of the biggest problems his team is scoring enough runs at the top of the order.

"We need to be more consistent. Our top four batsmen haven't scored as many runs in the last few series as they should have," he said.

Australia coach Tim Nielsen expect Brett Lee to play a part in the second half of the series, saying the fast bowler is currently bowling at about 70-80 per cent of his ability after overcoming a foot injury.