'Indians have put up a strong team'
The Australian team is on a roll, having lost just one match in their last two series enroute to the ICC Champions Trophy triumph and the thrashing of England.
But the Aussies, back at the top of the rankings, are not willing to take the Indians lightly.
Australia captain Ricky Ponting said despite India's bowling woes in recent months, their batting is quite capable of winning games, especially with the return of Yuvraj Singh and Virender Sehwag.
"If you line the teams up, the Indian batting line-up, with Yuvraj and Sehwag coming back, it makes their batting look very formidable. We know that the Indians have put up a strong team. We had a look through the squad and it is a very strong one-day team.
"At the moment the teams are ranked number one and two in the world, so it augurs well for a good contest in the next few weeks," Ponting said, in Mumbai on Wednesday.
Image: Ricky Ponting
'I expect it to be another entertaining series'
The last few India-Australia clashes were marred by controversies, like the famous Andrew Symonds-Harbhajan Singh spat in a Test at Sydney last year.
Ponting said the two teams will take care not to tow the line this time around but won't cut down on their aggression.
"I just expect it to be another entertaining series. Both teams have to take the responsibility to make sure the game is played in the right way. I am sure that no one minds seeing good aggressive cricket as long as no one steps over the mark.
"We played against each other during the Champions Trophy in a game which was shaping up to be a very good contest. That game, at least for the first half, was played in the right spirit, and I am sure that will continue in the next few weeks," he said.
Image: Andrew Symonds (left) and Harbhajan Singh
A good test for youngsters
The absence of Callum Ferguson and Michael Clarke due to injuries is a worry for Australia, but, at the same time, Ponting believes it is a good test for youngsters in the squad.
"With Ferguson going out from the Champions Trophy it is a bit of hit for us; Michael Clarke out of the tour leaves us a little bit more exposed as far as experience is concerned in these sort of conditions.
"But it is great to have some of the younger guys getting more opportunities. Shaun Marsh back in our set-up will be really good for us. As I said, as far as age, he is a relatively young guy, but he has got his 20-odd games of international cricket; so having him back is great."
"Watson has been terrific for us; Tim Paine, since he has come, has done a great job. Cameron White in the last two series he has played some excellent cricket as well. So we have got a little bit less experience than we once had, but the guys are certainly standing up, putting their hands up and getting the job done when it really matters," he said.
Image: Michael Clarke
'It would have been nice to have got the whole group together'
As many as six players in the Australian team have spent time over the last few weeks playing in the Champions League Twenty20. Australia's captain said while it may be an advantage with some of his players getting acclimatised to the conditions, not having them as part of their preparation for the series is hurting.
"I guess it probably helps and hinders us a little bit. We have got a small group of players and we have got a bit of training to do without a lot of our players who will be playing in the first game on Sunday.
"It is good to see that the two Australian teams have made it to the semi-finals, but, unfortunately, they are playing against each other tonight.
"The fact that they have been here, got acclimatised and got used to the conditions, on one hand is good for us, but it would have been nice to have got the whole group together a little bit sooner as well and have us get out training and preparation done a little bit sooner."
Image: Brett Lee
'You need to have guys who are flexible'
Ponting said the key to the outcome of the series will be how the Australian middle order batsmen cope up with the Indian spinners on slow, turning wickets.
"The challenges that we face over the next few weeks will be how our middle order plays against the Indian spinners. I have been here a lot; Mike Hussey has come here a lot; Shane Watson, Tim Paine and Cameron White play spin well. One thing you need to have in a one-day team is guys who are flexible and can play well in all types of conditions.
"If you look at our overall record in the subcontinent in one-day cricket, it has been good over the years. To have just come from the Champions Trophy and got away with some tough situations in that really big tournament should hold us in good stead for the challenges we will face over here," he added.
Image: Shane Watson
'What we want to achieve is to be very consistent'
In the last few years Australia's performance has dipped. Many felt they were on their way down, but the World champions set the record straight by winning the ICC Champions Trophy title.
Ponting though is still not satisfied and wants his players to raise their performance to another level.
"What we want to achieve as a one-day outfit is to be very consistent. The Australian teams of the past we were very consistent, whether one-day cricket or Test cricket, and it didn't matter where we played or whom we played. Our level of performance was very good.
"What we have experienced in the last couple of years has been some ups and downs in our consistency. Our Test cricket and one-day cricket at different times has been very good and at times it has been very ordinary.
"At the moment we have played some very good one-day cricket and I would expect that to continue over the next couple of weeks in India," he said.
Both teams have their own agenda as they enter the seven-match series, beginning in Vadodara on Sunday. While India are keen to settle scores after losing 2-4 to the Aussies in their last series at home, the World champions must be gunning for revenge after India shocked them 2-0 in the final to win the Commonwealth Bank tri-series.
Image: Australia celebrate winning the Champions Trophy
Five matches enough in any series: Ponting
Ponting also emphasised that a seven-match series is too long and boring.
"Over the last couple of years I have been on record a few times to say that seven is too many. I think five is enough to play head-to-head in any series, but we all know the reasons why we play seven-game series. We, as players, just get on with it and hope to win the series that we are playing."
Image: Ricky Ponting