Lookout for Sachin says Steve Waugh

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Sydney, Dec 31 (UNI) Master blaster Sachin Tendulkar will be the ''danger man'' for Australia and will hold the key if Men In Blue are to turn the tide against a confident Aussie attack asserts former captain Steve Waugh.

''You could see the way he played in the first innings he was set for a big score. I think he is the danger man in Sydney for Australia.

''He has set himself for a very big series here. His form has been up and down for the past 12 months, two years. He hasn't got a lot of runs against the top Test nations, ''Waugh said.

On Rahul Dravid's position in the team as an opener, the 42-year-old said, ''I would bring in Virender Sehwag to open the batting with him. If Sehwag comes in and plays his shots, his natural way will take pressure off Dravid.'' ''Wasim Jaffer would have to be the guy who misses out. After his second-innings dismissal when he got out on a no-ball and two balls later played a soft, wafty shot, that wasn't a Test batsman's shot.'' ''I was quite surprised when he relinquished the captaincy because I knew he really valued that and cherished that role. There may be issues going on behind the scenes that people don't know about.

''He has to take in the attitude that he doesn't have anything to prove to anyone. He has done everything you could possibly do in the cricket - just go in with a clean slate and enjoy yourself,'' he added.

Waugh, though is eagerly waiting for his predecessor Ricky Ponting to break his own record of 16th consecutive wins, and believe that the current team could even win as many as 30 straight Tests if they maintain their blistering form.

''There is no reason why they can't. The way they are playing at the moment, they are dominating. They are winning matches by big margins, but cricket is a funny game,'' Waugh said.

''We thought we were going to win 17 in a row in Kolkata (in 2001) and it didn't happen. When you least expect it, it (cricket) comes back and bites you.'' Ponting's men will equal the world record of 16 consecutive Test wins set under Waugh's captaincy in 2000-01 if they knock over a shellshocked Team India in the second Test at the SCG, starting at Wednesday.

While Waugh's claim sounds unlikely, a quick glimpse of Australia's schedule this year suggests it is not impossible.

Aussies will be favoured to beat India in Sydney, Perth and Adelaide before this series is finished.

Australia is then slated to tour Pakistan, West Indies and India this year, while there is also a mid-year Top End series against minnow Bangladesh.

The 1948 Australian team led by Sir Donald Bradman was dubbed the Invincibles because it didn't lose a match throughout its tour of England.

This title could soon be given to Ponting's side if its stunning form continues.

Waugh said he was delighted this team was in a position to match the record he tasted late in his career.

''It's a fantastic achievement. I am more than happy to see them get 16, then go on and get 20, 25, 30, 32 (wins),'' he was quoted as saying by the 'Herald Sun'.

''Records are there to be broken. I am happy to have left the side in a good state. Ricky has done a great job and I am more than happy if they go past it.'' Waugh also praised Brett Lee, saying the spearhead could be remembered as one of Australia's greatest bowlers by the time he retires.

Lee has been in scintillating form this summer, taking 22 wickets in three Tests.

He needs only six more to overtake Jason Gillespie (259) and move to fifth position on Australia's all-time list, behind Shane Warne (708), Glenn McGrath (563), Dennis Lillee (355) and Craig McDermott (291).

The 31-year-old Lee, has a better strike rate (51.5) than any on that list.

Asked if Lee could eventually be bracketed with the greats of the game, Waugh said: ''You have to be consistent. Those guys did it over a decade.

''Brett came on with a great flurry over the first 10, 15 Tests.

''He struggled, had a few injuries, working his way back. But if he can back up this season over the next four or five years, then there is no doubt he can be up there.

''He really looks the complete bowler now. He has control; he knows when to up the ante; he can sense weakness in batsmen; and he is not bowling any four-balls.'' UNI

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