Melbourne: Dec 25, 2011
Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar, who has been anchored on 99 hundreds since March 2011, is putting aside the speculation and pressure linked to his impending achievement, according to skipper MS Dhoni.
"He's someone who keeps it really simple," Dhoni said. "He will get it at some point in time, whether it's this series or the next series.
"I don't think there's any added pressure on him. A hundred hundreds in international cricket, it's something really big. The whole of cricket, all over the world, people will really cherish the moment when he gets his hundredth done."
Australia may have an inexperienced batting top three but they are in form ahead of the opening Boxing Day Test against India, Australian vice-captain Brad Haddin said on Sunday.
Australia's top three in the batting order -- David Warner, Ed Cowan and Shaun Marsh -- have just five Tests between them in one of Australia's most unfamiliar combinations in more than three decades.
Warner has played just two Test matches but comes to the Melbourne Cricket Ground with a last start unbeaten 123 against New Zealand, while three-Test Marsh crunched 99 off 52 balls in domestic Twenty20 just days ago.
Debutant Cowan earned selection on the strength of his 109 for a Chairman's XI against India this week along with three first-class centuries this season.
While the Australian team is in transition, India's top five batsmen -- Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman -- boast a combined tally of 610 Tests.
In the first of four Tests for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy it is India's experience against Australia's untried potential.
Wicketkeeper Haddin, who will be an important member of the Australian batting lineup at number seven, said it was time for the home team to stand up and meet the Indian challenge head on.
"You talk about our inexperienced top three, I think we've got a very in-form top three," Haddin told reporters on Sunday.
"And if we're going to do any good in this series it's going to be from one to seven with the bat. We've all got to perform. We've got to make sure we've got our game heads on and ready to go."
Coach Mickey Arthur arranged a batting camp this week and Haddin said the three-day get-together was to clear the batsmen's minds.
"Freeing your head, having no other thoughts in your head but just playing cricket," Haddin said.
"You'll see over the next five days whether it has all paid off."
Australia are also conceding huge amounts of big-match experience with the ball to India, with two of the four frontline bowlers, James Pattinson and offspinner Nathan Lyon, in their first year of Test cricket.
"We've picked an 11 that we think is confident to rip through this Indian side," Haddin said.
"They've got some great players and I know especially our bowlers are looking forward to having a crack at them."
Pattinson, just 21, has taken 14 wickets in his two Tests against New Zealand, while Lyon has 22 wickets from his seven Tests at 24.59.
Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman have indicated they will go after Lyon to dent his confidence.
"We're just hoping that we score some runs off him, try to put pressure on him," India skipper MS Dhoni said.
"The kind of experience we have got, that will really help us in executing our plans."
Australian captain Michael Clarke said Lyon will have to be managed carefully during the series, but he regards him as a potential weapon against a team who are traditionally adept at playing spin bowling.
"We've got to make sure we bowl Nathan at the right times, set the right fields to give him a little bit of protection and then attack when it's time to attack," Clarke said. (AFP)