Series more than about senior players' form - Tendulkar
Sachin Tendulkar has said the India-Australia series is about more than just how the Indian seniors play. "It's India versus Australia, it's not certain individuals versus certain individuals in their team," he said, responding to a question whether the seniors were under extra pressure, especially after Sourav Ganguly was not picked for the Irani Cup.
"It's about performing, and that is what the whole team should concentrate on doing," Tendulkar said. "We would just like to focus on our performance. It is both the countries competing against each other, so every little thing matters."
Tendulkar, however, avoided commenting on the Ganguly issue. "I would leave that to the captain, the coach, and the selectors. They have certain ideas in their minds and we have to abide by that."
Tendulkar, and the rest of the middle order, had an ordinary series in Sri Lanka, creating a debate over whether, and when, to phase out the Fab Four. Tendulkar started the Sri Lanka series needing 172 to become the world's leading run-getter in Tests, and three matches later he still needed 77.
"I just have to go and play my best," Tendulkar said. "Records will come if you keep playing well, and the focus will be on playing well. My mind is not on 76 runs, and it's not as if I can relax after getting 76 runs. For the four Tests, the team has some targets, and I am more focused on those."
The good news for India is that he is back to full fitness - he had injured his elbow in the last Test in Sri Lanka and missed the Irani Cup - and is feeling good about it. "Obviously coming back to the team you feel an energy like no other," Tendulkar said. "I have been working with our trainer, and it has worked out very well. Last two-three weeks have been quite good and I have been pleased with the way things have gone."
Tendulkar was speaking after India's first training session at the pre-series camp in Bangalore. "The first session we had has been very good. It was mainly a fitness-targeted session. We enjoyed it quite a bit."
The session went for over two hours, and focused on fielding and fitness. The team will go through more specific sessions - nets, open-wicket practice, and match simulations - in the coming days. The first day of the camp was attended by most of the Test squad that played in Sri Lanka. The players missing from those 16 were Ganguly, the wicketkeepers Dinesh Karthik and Parthiv Patel - since Mahendra Singh Dhoni is back - Rohit Sharma and Pragyan Ojha, who will play for Board President's XI against the Australians. The additions at the camp were Mohammad Kaif, who took Ganguly's place in the Rest of India team for the Irani Cup, and Dhoni.
The squad for the Tests is yet to be announced, and the players present at the camp are believed to have been called by the captain and the coach. India's new selection committee will meet on October 1 to pick the team for the first two Tests, which means the tour game in Hyderabad will have no bearing on the team for the first Test in Bangalore.
Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo