Johnson says Australia the team to beat

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Perth, Feb 4 (AFP) After embarrassment at the Ashes,Australian paceman Mitchell Johnson says the defendingchampions are still the side to beat at the upcoming WorldCup.

Australia''s horrific 3-1 belting in the Ashes series hasgiven way to a dominant performance in the seven-match one-dayinternational series against England, with the home sideleading 5-1 against the tiring tourists.

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

The pair have been replaced by local batsman Adam Vogesand forgotten spinner Jason Krejza.

It is Australia''s last match before their World Cupdefence, in which they will be aiming at a fourth straighttitle, and their preparation hasn''t gone smoothly despite theone-sided ODI series scoreline.

The final make-up of Australia''s 15-man World Cup squadremains 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 campwas rising all the time.

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

"The guys coming in like Voges and Krejza have done wellfor their states as well.

"I think we''ve still got a well-balanced one-day sidegoing into this last game, and we are taking a lot ofconfidence into it and then onto the World Cup.

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

Australia enter the World Cup as the number one rankedside in one-day cricket, but if they need any proof thatpre-tournament form doesn''t count for much they only need lookback to their 2007 campaign.

They lost their last five ODIs before the World Cup inthe West Indies, but then went through the tournamentunbeaten.

They have won their last 23 World Cup matches, their onlyblemish in their last 29 games the famous tie with SouthAfrica in the semi-final at Headingley in 1999, which stillenabled the Australians to advance to the final. (AFP) SNK

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