India 'properly prepared' - Tendulkar
Sachin Tendulkar says it would be the highlight of his career if India can complete the mammoth task of beating Australia in the four-Test series that starts on Boxing Day. No visiting team has won a Test series in Australia since West Indies in 1992-93 and Tendulkar, who is embarking on his fourth tour of Australia, is desperate to taste the ultimate success before he retires.
"I think it would be the most important tour if we can pull it off," Tendulkar said. "Beating Australia is obviously the ultimate thing because the way they have played for so many years makes it a special tour. Having come here four times, it would be a wonderful occasion."
India last visited Australia in 2003-04, when they won the Adelaide Test and secured a 1-1 series draw. Australia have now triumphed in their past 14 Tests and two more would see them equal their own record set under Steve Waugh, but it was India who broke that winning streak in 2000-01 and Tendulkar is keen to help them do it again.
Their tour started with a three-day game against Victoria at the Junction Oval but only 48 overs were possible because of Melbourne's wet weather and play was abandoned completely on Saturday. Some parts of Melbourne had more than 100 millimetres (four inches) of rain in the week to Saturday morning - most of it in the last two days - although a warm change was expected by Christmas.
During the rain breaks India trained at the MCG's indoor nets and if Melbourne's weather remains nasty they will be back there several more times before the first Test. But Australia's coach Tim Nielsen said India would still be fresh from their tough series against Pakistan and Tendulkar agreed that they were already primed for Boxing Day.
"We have come here properly prepared because although the practice match was rained off, we have come here having played Test cricket, which is extremely important," Tendulkar said. "We are geared up and as far as I am concerned we are ready and we would like to go out there and put on a good show. We are confident."
However, he felt it would have been ideal if the players had more time to rest and recuperate between Test series. India arrived just days after a demanding home series against Pakistan and their season includes a massive seven back-to-back Tests.
"We can have more cricket, but it's equally important to have a little more gap in between the tours," he said. "But the international calendar is very tight so there's not much time to go back home and assess things."
Tendulkar made an entertaining, albeit brief 19 against Victoria and he is certain that the knee injury that kept him out of the final Test against Pakistan is behind him. He also wants to keep up his impressive form in Australia - from 12 Tests Tendulkar has made 1029 runs at 54.15. But India's hopes rest not only on Tendulkar but also on how quickly his team-mates can adjust to the bouncier pitches in Australia.
"All the batters have scored runs so they are feeling confident," he said. "What you do out there in the middle matters. You can practice various things but you have to go out there and get used to the occasion. Once you calm down your nerves, everything falls into place."