SYDNEY - Australia paceman Mitchell Johnson is expecting a fiery encounter with South Africa in the upcoming one-day series but thinks to say the teams "hate" each other would be to overstate the case. The bad blood between the sides goes back to Australia's test triumph in South Africa at the start of the year and Johnson conceded that it could spill over into the five-match series which starts at the WACA in Perth on Friday.

"There's always tension between the two sides," Johnson told reporters in Perth on Wednesday. "But in the end we're going to play them on skill. That's what we're about. We want to beat them with bat and ball. It's probably going to be fiery again but we want to play the best cricket we can. Both teams don't like to lose and that's where you see the fire in the game (but) I think hate's a pretty strong word."

Johnson has not been as devastating in one-day internationals at his home ground as he has in Test matches, where he has taken 42 wickets at 20.19 in six matches. That compares to 11 at 32.54 in nine international matches with the white ball but Johnson is confident that his contribution to the team goes beyond knocking down wickets.

"I always enjoy playing at the WACA and if I play my role in being aggressive and don't get any wickets, I'm happy and hopefully the team will be happy too," he said. The 33-year-old said he would be bowling "pain free" despite a bandage on one of his fingers, damaged when he caught a ball awkwardly in the United Arab Emirates.

Having laboured in two Tests against Pakistan on the slow pitches in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Johnson was relishing the pace-friendly Perth tracks. "It's nice to be back home, I'm just getting used to the wickets again," he said. "Obviously in the UAE it's low and slow so it's been pretty exciting in the nets, just seeing how much bounce and pace there is. I always go as hard as I can in the nets without trying to kill the batsmen." The series, a key part of preparations for next year's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, starts with two clashes in Perth before moving on to Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney.

Hunted Lyon backs himself to turn it around: Following a bruising examination by Pakistan's batsmen, Australia spinner Nathan Lyon has returned to the nets, pledging to try some new things after hard lessons in the Middle East. The 26-year-old, who worked with Sri Lankan great Muttiah Muralitharan in the lead-up to prepare for the slow pitches in the United Arab Emirates, managed three wickets from the 2-0 series defeat to Pakistan, each coming at a cost of 140.66 runs.

Although hardly the sole culprit in the Australian attack -- paceman Peter Siddle managed two wickets at 108.50 runs apiece -- Lyon has found himself again defending his status as Australia's lead spinner, a position he has become all-too-familiar with over a 35-Test career. Returning to home pitches would usually offer some comfort, but Lyon faces a further test against batsmen undaunted by spin when Australia take on India in a four-test series starting next month.

"You're always under pressure," the off-spinner told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday. "You're playing international cricket at the highest level so if people aren't putting you under pressure you aren't improving. It's about how you handle that and how you bounce back. I'm confident in my skill to get the job done no matter what. It's unfortunate it didn't happen in Abu Dhabi and Dubai but you have to pay credit to (Pakistan's) spin bowling."

Lyon toasted his 100th wicket during Australia's 5-0 whitewash of England in the last home summer, a hard-earned triumph after being discarded during Australia's 4-0 defeat away to India earlier in the year. The joys of the Ashes might feel like distant memories for Lyon, who managed eight wickets at an average of 39 in his team's 2-1 win over South Africa .

Even before the Pakistan series, Lyon was under pressure from coach Darren Lehmann, who complained in September that his premier spinner had failed to do the business in second inning spells to drive his team to victory. Former Australia leg-spinner Shane Warne also chimed in this week saying Lyon had made changes to his bowling that had proven ineffective in the Middle East.

Amid the critiques, Australian media have latched onto encouraging performances by leg-spinner Cameron Boyce, named man-of-the-match in his third T20 international against South Africa in Melbourne on Friday.