Hayden ready to tackle Harbhajan on-field

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Melbourne, Sep 21 (UNI) World champion Australia today fly out to India for a four-Test series beginning October 9, and the opening batsman Matthew Hayden admitted that the off-spinner Harbhajan Singh would be the main threat to his side during the challenge.

They are well primed to resume hostilities after last summer's controversial Indian tour of Australia, which was engulfed in a racism storm.

The imposing left-hander had famously called Harbhajan ''obnoxious weed'' during India's controversy-ridden tour Down Under early this year prompting the Indian off-spinner to label the Australian opener one of the most reviled men in world cricket.

''Having played over there, and played well over there, I think I'm going to be the obvious target,'' Hayden told the Courier Mail.

Hayden, now among the four players from the 15-man Australian squad with Test experience in India, said he would need to step up to the threat.

''Harbhajan is very competitive, especially in his own environment,'' he said. ''He's a big threat to our side, no doubt about that. He's skilful and has got some weapons in conditions that will really favour him. My job will be to combat that so, for me, it's a battle I'm really looking forward to.'' Hayden said the ''whole dynamic'' of the Australian Test side had changed in recent years, with Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne and Adam Gilchrist retiring.

''To be part of the number cricket side in the world is always a big challenge. I expect no mercy from the Indians but that's why I'll enjoy this series. I'll be right in the thick of it,'' added Hayden who toured India in 2001.

Hayden lives for the big occasion so it is no surprise his coming of age as a Test player in 2001 was in India- the most unforgiving place for a foreign cricketer.

The Queenslander spanked 549 runs at 109.80 on that tour and his record against India is imposing, amassing 1654 runs at 66.16 with six centuries.

''I think this series is tailormade for guys like me,'' said Hayden, who will turn 37 in India.

But this squad has a look of fragility. The pace attack, comprising Brett Lee, Stuart Clark, Mitchell Johnson and Doug Bollinger, has no Test experience in India. And unproved international spinners Bryce McGain and Jason Krejza could face a torrid initiation against a murderous Indian battling line-up that relishes spin on its home patch.

''The whole dynamic of the side has changed,'' Hayden said.


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