India tour stepping stone to reclaim world number one: Ponting

"I'd like to get the team back to number one again and this will be hopefully just one of those steps along the way. "It's an important tour for all of us. But I don't expect miracles, but expect a very high level of performance over the next few weeks," Ponting told reporters before leaving for India for the two Tests and three ODIs starting October 1.
Australia has dropped to fourth in the ICC Test rankings, below India, South Africa and Sri Lanka and Ponting conceded his side would need a spectacular performance against the world number one side.

"If we happen to play the cricket I know we are capable of in India and we can win that series, that will do great things for us to get back up near the number one ranking," he said.

Ponting agreed with the spin legend Shane Warne that the tour of India was not the perfect preparation for the Ashes series but said having two Tests and three ODIs was better than the original itinerary which featured only seven ODIs.

"There's been a bit of talk the last few weeks about our preparation into what we've got later in the summer and I definitely couldn't be happier with it, playing Test cricket at this time of year," he said.

"For us, I think it will be great to be challenged the way that we will be challenged over there, by a very good team and by the conditions. "I think it will be great for us when November (and the Ashes series) comes around."

Uncapped young pacemen Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson were placed on standby for the tour following an injury to another youngster Josh Hazlewood and the Champions League Twenty20 commitments of squad members Peter George and Doug Bollinger.

Ponting said the two players were placed on standby as both George and Bollinger's teams could make the final stages of the tournament in South Africa, where the final clashes with the start of Australia's warm-up game in Mohali.

Some of Australia's recent tours to the sub-continent have been clouded by security concerns but Ponting said he was happy with the level of security for the trip to India.
The skipper is also keen to improve his average of 20.8 in India, where he has scored just one century in 12 Tests.

Australia play a three-day practice match against Board President's XI from September 25 before the two Tests -- Mohali (October 1-5) and Bangalore (October 9-13).

The two Tests would be followed by three ODIs -- at Kochi (October 7), Visakhapatnam (October 20) and Margao (October 24).

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