Australia v India, World T20 2012, Super Eights, Colombo September 26, 2012

'We're ready for Harbhajan's aggression' - Hussey


No Australian Twenty20 team has been as aggressive in word or deed as the one about to face India in a critical Super Eights match at the World T20. So there is understandable anticipation about the rejoining of an old battle with Harbhajan Singh, famously provocative in the past but so far this tournament doing more with the ball than with his choice of words.

Australia showed plenty of intent in the field in their opening match against Ireland, David Warner and Shane Watson particularly active in their efforts to rile the opposition. Watson later said this was part of how the team "gets up" for a serious contest. Any attempts at a similar approach against the West Indies were momentarily silenced by the blazing bats of Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels before George Bailey's team notched a rain-assisted victory.

Harbhajan's recall was always likely to tempt another encounter with Australia, a team with which he has a history of confrontation and controversy, not least the 2008 Sydney Test match and its aftermath. While his striking display against England suggested a Harbhajan more focused on his bowling than anything else, the sight of the green and gold may stir that old familiar feeling.

Michael Hussey, a witness to much of the aforementioned history, said he expected Harbhajan to resume his famously provocative ways, and counselled his younger teammates to remain true to themselves in dealing with any verbal confrontations.

"I prefer to walk away and not worry about it," Hussey said. "If he [Harbhajan] wants to use his energy up sledging and carrying on, that's fine. Some other guys really thrive on it. Davey Warner, he likes a little bit of interaction out there and it gets him going.

"So I don't think there is a right way or wrong way to handle it but I think it's up to the individual to know he's going to try these tactics so you've got to be ready for it, and be sure it doesn't affect your concentration but handle it in your own way. I just think let him [Warner] go, let him play his way. That's what has given him success so far."

The match against India is the first of a testy trio that also features South Africa and Pakistan, leaving Hussey to reason that a first-up victory would ease a great deal of pressure from the team's shoulders.

"If we can win that first one in the Super Eights, it does give you that confidence and that little buffer that you know you just need one out of the last two to get through," Hussey said. "It's pretty much an early grand final really in the context of the tournament. But that relaxed attitude is important as well. We need to make sure we're not too tense.

"All the [batsmen] are playing well in the nets and they've got a lot of confidence, and that's a big part of Twenty20. You need to have no doubts in your mind or fears, you've got to trust yourself and let your instincts take over."

The coach Mickey Arthur treated Australia's player to two days off after their qualification for the next phase, though he then extracted a measure of recompense by pushing the players through a decidedly rigorous Tuesday training session.

"We have had a few relaxing days but I expect that's all about to end," Hussey said. "Training yesterday [Tuesday] was very long and pretty intense and a welcome back to reality really. The pressure and tension are only going to rise as we get closer to that India match because it's a huge game."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Andrew on September 28, 2012, 19:55 GMT

    T20s are really a waste of time. One small, tiny pieces of info that Indian fans may want to take out of this game is, note the result, note that this is the sub-continent. Note the way Indian wickets fell, I said a few days ago, in all honesty, I think Oz are a much better chance of winning the upcoming test series v India than in any of the previous 6 or 7 years. Can't tell on 2 overs, but the Turbanator MAY still be a threat, I think Kholi is definately, but India are not as good a side as 12 mths ago.

  • Andrew on September 28, 2012, 19:53 GMT

    @DINESHCC on (September 27 2012, 09:55 AM GMT) - you were saying? @satish619chandar on (September 27 2012, 08:21 AM GMT) - sorry it was Ashwin that was going to be slog-swept by Watto! @Mo Tabaqui - care to elaborate any further? @T20WC on (September 27 2012, 02:24 AM GMT) - surprisingly, I think after the way the Indians tried to play Cummins & Starc, they might be foolish enuff to try a slog-sweep. THAT, could end very badly! @rod77 on (September 27 2012, 02:10 AM GMT) - am I still dreaming? I swear the website says clearly, that Oz won by 9 wickets. @sammysam on (September 27 2012, 00:10 AM GMT) - LOL! Dhoni smashing 6s against Oz - dreaming mate!

  • Ali on September 28, 2012, 16:39 GMT

    @chinkart, half of what you said was correct.. yes Shane Watson did play but India didn't play at all!

  • Karthik on September 28, 2012, 9:45 GMT

    shane watson will play well today but still Indian team will win , since India play asa team but Australia is dependent on few individual performances ,,,

  • Shahnawaz on September 28, 2012, 3:05 GMT

    things looking 'black & white' for india, although having most formidable batting line but still easiest prey in the toughest group. Anyone of the remaining three will qualify for semifinals. Africans are the best batting, bowling & fielding side, Aus have batting, bowling & fielding to give tough time to any opponent & Pak have a batting concern but still it is decent, there fielding is looking good & there bowling as usual, Afridi & Ajmal will prove to be the back waters in storm for pak & for india withot batting, fielding, bowling are just at club level.

  • Premalal on September 28, 2012, 2:54 GMT

    Australia is going to be too good for India I guess. If Pat Cummings maintains his form he would be a handfull for Indian openers whether it is Sewag or any one else for that matter. It is true that the 3 best teams in their group and India must carry the minnows tag behind SA, Pakistan and Australia, unfortunately. Given the current form SA will top the group and Pakistan and Australia will fight for the second place. Cricket is a funny game and T20 is even funnier and opposite can happen too. If India to make an impression, Harbajan should keep his cool and should avoid confronting the Aussies at any cost. Aussies know that well enough and will do anything to derail Harbajan. I know that 1billion of Indians will not agree as they obsessed with their Crikcket and can't see the reality. Thanks to Tendulkar, Indian cricket had a little bit of venom for the last decade but now he is no more. Now they have Kohli and he is the one to make an impression if theyto progress any further.

  • Kapil on September 28, 2012, 0:29 GMT

    I have to say that it seems really ridiculous that THIS Aus team is keeping David Hussey out. As far as I am concerned, warmups and minnows don't count so the IRE match means nothing and the middle order didn't bat against WI. Thus, this is a highly inexperienced AND untested middle order. We all know that even Bailey is in the team mainly for captaincy and not for batting. The way I see it, India should get Warner early through spin (I am betting that if Ashwin opens the bowling than Warner will be gone before the end of over no 4 - even if 2 of those overs are bowled by a seamer) and if India can then break the Watson-Hussey partnership early, it will be a cakewalk.....unless of course Aus comes to their senses and play David Hussey

  • Andrew on September 27, 2012, 23:55 GMT

    @Chris_P on (September 27 2012, 21:19 PM GMT) - I think he must be Front Foot Lunge's love child! @Mozenrath Tobaqi - if you read what I said, you would understand that it was a response to a question/statement - that implied Oz had never won a competition in the sub-continent! It has nothing to do with who we played, rather WHERE we played. I'd also throw in making the 96 World Cup was a fair effort too! @DINESHCC & others - you all might want to read the last sentence of what I wrote. No need to get your panties in a bunch!

  • Vijay on September 27, 2012, 21:37 GMT

    @rickyvoncanterbury Australia cannot play spin, India cannot play medium pace, fast bowling, mind games or outside of India. England cannot play. Period.

  • Peter on September 27, 2012, 21:19 GMT

    @Rogerunionjack. Let us revisit your statement after it's all over, or will you simply disappear like many others have "prediction experts"?

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