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'Australia series will be tough'

cricket Updated: Sep 19, 2008 01:39 IST
G Krishnan
G Krishnan
Hindustan Times
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Sachin Tendulkar joined sporting legends, golfer Jack Nicklaus and Formula One champion Jackie Stewart among others as the global ambassador of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) Group in Mumbai on Thursday.

Tendulkar's carefully-worded remark, however, came towards the end of the event. "What's common among the three of us is that we like to drive straight," he said.

But while the maestro-bank partnership was the purpose of the meeting, it was the coming Border-Gavaskar series (of which RBS are associate sponsors) that dominated the chatter.

Tendulkar said that the upcoming series against Australia will be "extremely tough," and added, "I think Australia have a lot of experienced players. Though they have some inexperienced players, they do have seniors who have been around for a long time. Being the number one team in the world, Australia will come in full force. We are prepared to face all those challenges. The series will be an extremely well-fought and in the right spirit. I have no doubt that it will be a close series and the people will love it."

Tendulkar also said that the Indo-Aus rivalry had become the series to watch in world cricket. "I think it's been bigger only because of the competitiveness. All the series in the recent past that we have played, from 2001 in India have been close ones. We are probably the only side in the recent past who have gone to Australia and beaten them in a Test. Australia enjoy healthy competition. We were able to surprise them and that's why the following has increased. From what was 15 years ago, it's gone to a different level now," he said.

While not dwelling too much on the Aussies, Tendulkar said he and the Indian team had their hands full. "We want to use our experience to our strengths and make sure we take the right decisions when the first Test starts. The first Test sets the tone for the series. We are not thinking too much about Australia and their experience or inexperience.

“We want to divert our energy into right planning and making the right decisions before the series begins," he said.

The holder of 81 international 100s sent a message on behalf of the Indian team in the wake of the bitter duels between Andrew Symonds and Harbhajan Singh in Australia early this year. "Such things have happened in the past as well. The media coverage and post match meetings with the referee have only added to the excitement. I don't think there is any friction between us. As far as the Indian team is concerned, we want to be competitive and play in the right spirit. I am sure Australia would also want to play that way."

The entire cricketing world is hoping for Tendulkar to break Brian Lara's record of most Test runs, he is 76 short of matching the West Indian's 11,953. But for150-Test maestro, records hardly mattered. "I don't think of records," Tendulkar said.

"What gives me immense pleasure is the satisfaction of playing for the country and contributing to the team's win. The team's target is the bigger target and it feels nice if individual records come along."