Chennai:World champions Australia eves' 4-3 triumph over India in the seven-match One-day series may have been on expected lines but skipper Belinda Clarke believes there is still room for improvement.
"We're happy that we are able to pocket the series. It was probably on expected lines. But yes, we're touch disappointed with our effort in the last two games," Clarke told Thatscricket.com in an exclusive interview.
The 34-year-old New South Waleswoman, who is the only Aussie woman cricketer to have donned ODIs caps, feels that the Australians could have clinched the series by a much more convincing margin had they got used to the Indian conditions better.
"I honestly feel we didn't acclimatize ourselves to the conditions as we'd have liked. Had that not been the case I'm sure the end result would have been different," said the 1998 Wisden Australia Cricketer of the Year.
The right-hander, who notched her career-best ODI score of 229 against Denmark at Mumbai during the 1997-98 World Cup, singled out a few positives from the India sojourn.
"I thought Leonie Coleman who is relatively new to international cricket, did a fine job behind the stumps. Our regular glovewoman Julia Clare Price was unavailable for the tour, and in her absence Coleman did an outstanding job."
"Karen Rolton was consistent with the bat throughout the series. Cathryn Fitzpatrick bowled well. All in all, there are quite a few positives we can take home from this trip," she said.
What's her assessment of the Indian side?
"India are a good all-round side. They have the wherewithal to be a formidable international side in the years to come, not that they are not already. Obviously, they knew the home conditions better than us but that's no way trying to take away credit from India for the kind of showing they put up against us," she observed.
The 2005 World Cup is slated to be held in South Africa from April and Clarke reckons the India trip was a nice build-up for the big-ticket event.
"It was just what the doctor ordered. The seven-match series would have given us a fair idea of our strengths and weakness. We have a three-match ODI series coming up against New Zealand in March and hopefully that series will set us up in the groove before we go into the big one in South Africa." says Clarke, who has amassed over 4,000 ODI runs.
Whom does she sees as potential threats to Aussies for the World Cup title?
"Having tasted world cup success on four occasions, we surely've a lot to play for. We'd be looking to have another crack at it and lay our hands on the world cup for the fifth time."
"I know people are calling us runaway favourites but I think India, England and New Zealand will be serious contenders for the World Cup crown. Of course, upsets can happen in One-day cricket but these are the four sides which should make it to the World Cup semis," the ace batswoman remarked.
The Indian hospitality towards visiting teams is well known in world cricket circles and Clarke is no exception.
"The hospitality here has been tremendous. The Indian women's cricket board took good care of us and we'd carry fond memories to Australia," Clarke signed off.