Former Australia opener Matthew Hayden believes Australia should be conscious about Sachin Tendulkar in the Test series between India and Australia, starting on February 22 at Chennai.
“The Australians will be relieved that [Rahul] Dravid and [VVS] Laxman are not there, they have seen enough of them. As far as Sachin is concerned, I think he will go on his own terms. If I know Tendulkar, he will come very hard at Australia,” he said.
Hayden feels the exclusion of Gautam Gambhir will be a huge setback for the Indians.
“Gambhir not being there is a huge setback for India. He is a seasoned campaigner and knows how to tackle the Australians. I think it’s like Australia not having Michael Hussey in their line-up for the Test series. Gambhir not being there is a huge weight off the Aussies’ shoulders. Harbhajan’s return, on the other hand, is an excellent strategy. If he gels well with this Indian unit, he can be really handy even today, especially while bowling in that red dirt,” Hayden was quoted as saying by Times of India.
Speaking about Ravichandran Ashwin, with whom Hayden has played for Chennai Super Kings in the cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL), he said, “I feel Ash will come up with the goods in this series. His role initially should be to bowl tight from one end and I think he will get better as the series progresses. In addition to that, he can bat as well, so that’s going to be handy for India.”
Hayden believes Australians cannot have a specific plan to excel in Indian conditions.
“Every player should have his own set of ideas about tackling Indian bowling. I always looked to use my reach, play the sweep shot and use my feet against spinners, and I stuck to that strategy during every India series. It’s important to play straight and the idea should be to bat for long periods of time. Fitness, in this heat, will also be a key issue and another thing that I should mention is peace of mind.”
The 41-year-old feels the retirement of Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey are a big factor, however Australia have cricketers who can do well in place of them.
“Hussey and Ponting not being there is obviously going to be a big factor. But Australia have some players who can do well at the highest level. Usman Khawaja is one guy who has the ability to bat for long periods of time and is very composed at the crease.Then there are some dark horses like Glenn Maxwell, who reminds me a lot of a young Ponting. Then Phil Hughes has been one of Australia’s best players in recent times.”
“Playing in India is all about batting for long periods and building momentum and run-scoring does become easy once you are in for a while. I am looking forward to seeing a good opening partnership between [David] Warner, who is destructive by nature, and [Ed] Cowan, while [Phil] Hughes and [Shane] Watson are better players of spin coming down the order. Dravid and Laxman won’t be there,” he added.