Hayden inspired by tension with Harbhajan
Matthew Hayden has said that he will be the beneficiary if Harbhajan Singh gets distracted by any ongoing tension between the pair in the upcoming Test series. The two men had a fiery relationship during the Tests in Australia earlier this year when Hayden labelled Harbhajan an "obnoxious little weed".
In the build-up to the return series in India, Harbhajan has said he is not out to win friends. Hayden downplayed the ill-feeling between the pair but at the same time said any continuation of the animosity would only have a positive effect on his own on-field performances.
"There is a lot less of the personal tension with Harbhajan than what gets made out," Hayden said. "In a lot of ways, I feel if that is affecting him, it's a good thing for Hayden because I don't feel I am harbouring any massive resentment.
"I think he is a very, very good bowler and I think it is challenging every ball to play well against him. As you know, over the years those kind of tensions have always made me play better, and I will certainly be using that to my advantage.
"It is going to have Test match tension and I don't feel threatened by that. The only thing that threatens me is what balls he can deliver to get me out. To me, that has been a great source of motivation, not just [against] Harbhajan. They've got a very solid bowling attack right around."
Hayden is one of only four men in the Australian squad to have played a Test in India and he said it was important his colleagues did not convince themselves the conditions would be unplayable. In the tour match in Hyderabad, some of the batsmen struggled but Michael Hussey and the No. 11 Stuart Clark added 96 for the last wicket.
"If you look at Huss and Stuey Clark, there are times when you look invincible in these conditions," Hayden said. "Then there are other times when the momentum is against the batter and it looks like you're going to get out every ball. The conditions are relatively benign once you spend a lot of time in them."
Hayden, who turns 37 during the third Test, is making his return following several months off with a nagging injury to his achilles tendon. He is likely to open with Simon Katich, who was preferred to Phil Jaques in the warm-up game, when the first Test starts in Bangalore on Thursday.