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Johnson says Aus still the team to beat

AFP
Feb 11, 2011 at 05:16pm IST

Perth: After embarrassment at the Ashes, Australian paceman Mitchell Johnson says the defending champions are still the side to beat at the upcoming World Cup.

Australia's horrific 3-1 belting in the Ashes series has given way to a dominant performance in the seven-match ODI series against England, with the home side leading 5-1 against the tiring tourists.

The final match is being played at the WACA Ground in Perth on Sunday, and the hosts have decided to rest captain Michael Clarke, coming off his best batting form in two months, and star all-rounder Shane Watson.

Johnson says Aus still the team to beat

The paceman said the defending champions are still the side to beat at the upcoming mega event.

The pair have been replaced by local batsman Adam Voges and forgotten spinner Jason Krejza.

It is Australia's last match before their World Cup defence, in which they will be aiming at a fourth straight title, and their preparation hasn't gone smoothly despite the one-sided ODI series scoreline.

The final make-up of Australia's 15-man World Cup squad remains shrouded in mystery, with squad members Ricky Ponting (finger), Mike Hussey (hamstring) and Nathan Hauritz (shoulder) all battling serious injuries.

Reserves Shaun Marsh (hamstring) and Xavier Doherty (back) are also unfit, but Johnson said confidence in the camp was rising all the time.

"It is a bit of a different side, but there are a lot of guys there who have played one-day cricket for Australia," Johnson said.

"The guys coming in like Voges and Krejza have done well for their states as well. I think we've still got a well-balanced one-day side going into this last game, and we are taking a lot of confidence into it and then onto the World Cup.

"We are still the number one one-day side in the world so hopefully we win this series 6-1."

Australia enter the World Cup as the number one ranked side in one-day cricket, but if they need any proof that pre-tournament form doesn't count for much they only need look back to their 2007 campaign.

They lost their last five ODIs before the World Cup in the West Indies, but then went through the tournament unbeaten.

They have won their last 23 World Cup matches, their only blemish in their last 29 games the famous tie with South Africa in the semi-final at Headingley in 1999, which still enabled the Australians to advance to the final.

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