India's key contest against Australia is first challenge of grueling season

India captain Rahul Dravid says his team's make-or-break tri-series match against Australia on Friday is his team's first big challenge in a highly competitive season ahead.

The winner of Friday's limited-overs match will make it to the final for a title clash with the West Indies on Sunday.

All three teams are treating the tri-series as a warmup ahead of next month's ICC Champions Trophy in India, which itself will provide crucial preparation for next year's World Cup.

"There are some important games ahead. There will be lot of important challenges in the season ahead, starting with the game tomorrow," Dravid told reporters after a practice session at the Kinrara Oval.

"I am pretty focused on the game tomorrow. My mind and energies are really on trying to win the tournament. It is pretty important for us. (I am) not really trying to think about anything else," he said.

India will need to focus on playing good cricket and improving its batting, bowling and fielding after scraping through with an improbable win against the West Indies on Wednesday.

India suffered a batting collapse, folding up for 162 in 39.3 overs. But superb bowling by Harbhajan Singh and Ajit Agarkar, and a batting collapse by West Indies who were all out for 146 saved India from an embarrassing defeat.

Dravid said it was important for his team to register its first victory in the tournament.

"To come back strongly showed a lot of resilience and character. So that's a good sign" even though the match exposed areas where India needs work, he said.

Dravid dismissed suggestion that it will be important for India to see through the opening spell of Australian pace bowler Glenn McGrath.

"It will be important to play all of them well. I don't think we can focus just on McGrath or Brett Lee," he said. "They have a good quality bowling attack so we have to play well right through 50 overs."

Dravid said West Indies medium pace bowler Dwayne Smith, who took four top Indian wickets on Thursday, showed that danger can come from any quarter.

"You wouldn't have thought about him that much as being one of your strike bowlers who can remove off the top order, but he did it. So just shows that if you bowl in the right areas anyone can be a threat."

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