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Pakistan stronger than before: Sachin

Tendulkar warned that the recent winning run by rival Pakistan will help them pose a stronger challenge than they did in 2004.

india Updated: Jan 10, 2006 17:13 IST

Star batsman Sachin Tendulkar on Tuesday warned that the recent winning run by rival Pakistan will help them pose a stronger challenge than they did in 2004.

"Pakistan have been playing well and have carried a good momentum. I think this series will be more competitive than in 2004," Tendulkar told reporters.

India won both the Test and one-day series on Pakistan soil two years ago, but Inzamam-ul Haq's men are on a high this time after the 2-0 Test series victory at home over Ashes-winning England in December.

"Pakistan has shown confidence and a right kind of attitude, so it would definitely be a tough series," said Tendulkar, who scored a world record 35th Test hundred last month.

Tendulkar, however, said India too will be well-prepared against Pakistan when the first of three Tests begins at the Gaddafi stadium here on Friday.

"To carry that 2004 experience would be important for us. But we don't need to be over-confident," he said.

"When we came here last time we had really played well in Australia and followed that up by beating Pakistan. We want to do as well here this time.

"International cricket is always competitive but, to be honest, the excitement of an India-Pakistan series does affect the players because there is so much hype in both countries.

"One feels it is a special series. But it is all about competitiveness, nothing more than that. We eventually go out and play cricket but it gets very hard."

Tendulkar said he was not worried about speculation that Pakistan, spearheaded by fiery fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar, was preparing hard and bouncy wickets to trouble the tourists.

"It won't be the first time that we will play on hard and bouncy tracks," he said.

"We are used to playing on all kinds of pitches, ones that bounce or spin.

"What is important is the runs we put up on the board for our bowlers."

The master batsman conceded that Akhtar, who took 17 wickets in three Tests against England, was in peak form.

"He bowled exceptionally well against England and looked good, but he will need to take a fresh start in this series. We are ready to tackle him."

Tendulkar has scored 10,323 in 126 Tests and is the most successful batsman in one-day cricket with a world record tally of 13,909 runs and 38 hundreds.

Tendulkar scoffed at suggestions that Pakistan and India were playing too much against each other -- this will be the third series between the neighbours in two years.

"When we did not play Test cricket between 1989 and 1999 people were complaining," he said. "Now they are complaining why we are playing so much.

"I think the cricket boards of India and Pakistan will find the right balance while scheduling tours."

First Published: Jan 10, 2006 17:13 IST