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Friday, September 19, 2008

India v Australia bigger than rivalry with Pakistan - Tendulkar

India v Australia bigger than rivalry with Pakistan - Tendulkar

Cricinfo staff

September 18, 2008

Sachin Tendulkar: I think India v Australia has become bigger largely because of the competitiveness © AFP

The build-up to Australia's upcoming tour of India has received another fillip after Sachin Tendulkar said that the rivalry between the two teams surpassed that between India and Pakistan because of the "competitiveness" that has characterised India-Australia encounters since 2001.

"We have gone to Australia and beaten them. We have been able to surprise them and that's what the Australian public likes: competition and high standards of play," Tendulkar told reporters in Mumbai. "They love to see challenges and competitiveness."

Over the last seven years, 11 out 15 India-Australia Tests have had results with Australia holding a 6-5 advantage. India have won two Tests in Australia, while no other team has won a single Test since the Ashes game in Sydney in 2002.

"I think it [India v Australia] has become bigger largely because of the competitiveness. All the series, from 2001 onwards, have been keenly fought and have been very close ones."

Expecting the series in October to be no different, Tendulkar promised hard but fair cricket from India, and felt Australia would reciprocate.

Ricky Ponting will lead a relatively inexperienced team - none of his bowlers have played a Test in India - but Tendulkar said their squad, which is a blend of experienced batsmen and new-comers with extensive first-class experience, would challenge India.

Tendulkar will begin the series 77 runs short of surpassing Brian Lara's record of 11,953 runs to become the highest run-getter in Tests. He was tipped to break it during the recent series in Sri Lanka but managed to score only 95 in three Tests. Tendulkar, however, chose to play down the approaching landmark.

"I don't think too much about records," he said. "I want to enjoy my game. If players focus on their performance, records automatically fall into place. I focus on playing the game well. If it [the record] comes in doing so I will be happy."

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