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Hosts vs. Champions- Clash of the Titans

Current champions Australia take on the ICC World Cup hosts India in what is by far the pick of the warm up matches.

While the clash is inconsequential as far as the result goes, there are some points of interest in the contest.

Entering his third World Cup campaign as captain, Ricky Ponting is yet to lead Australia to a loss in a World Cup match. Considering the summer he has had, which included a 3-1 loss of the Ashes, critics and fans alike will be watching him closely this afternoon.

A finger injury has sidelined him since the Boxing Day Test, forcing him to be away from the game for a month- surely something that will see a legend of the game return refreshed and raring to go.

For India, Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli and Yusuf Pathan will be using this warm-up as an opportunity to stake a claim for the No. 6 and 7 slots.  

While all three have had good runs of late, on the backs of absences by senior members of the team, however one of them will have to be benched in the World Cup.

Raina is expected to fare the best of the lot on the flat tracks likely to be served up in the subcontinent.

Which of the trio misses out in Dhaka in a week's time could very well be decided by the performances in this warm up.

India’s batting line up is jam packed with experience in the forms of Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir.

While the added experience is obvious, the fact remains that the trio has played only seven ODI’s between them in the past five months, and has not been in a one-day match together since December 2009.

For Australia there will be a lot of attention falling on a bowling line up that many consider to be weaker than that of the traditional Australian arsenal.

With their two preferred options - Nathan Hauritz and Xavier Doherty - out injured, their frontline spinner for the World Cup now falls on the shoulders of Jason Krejza, a man with all the experience of a single ODI.

In a tournament that many are touting to be a spinner’s paradise, a lot will be asked of Krejza today. How he adjusts to the sub continent wickets will be pivotal to Australia's chances of retaining the trophy.

India head in as odds on favourites here today, as well as favourites to win the tournament.

Australia will want to ensure that a long Ashes summer does not see them lose focus at crunch time, and will look to assert themselves from the get-go. 

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