Sachin's promotion as opener doesn't worry us: Lehmann

Published: Friday, February 14, 2003, 1:38 [IST]
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Pretoria: Australia's middle-order batsman Darren Lehmann on Thursday said Sachin Tendulkar's promotion in the batting order does not worry the world champion as it prepares to take on India in a crucial Group 'A' match at Centurion on Saturday. We all know what Sachin Tendulkar is capable of and his returning to the top doesn't worry us," said Lehmann, after his side underwent a three-hour practice session at the Centurion Park on Thursday. Tendulkar returned to his favourite opening position in India's World Cup opener against Holland on Wednesday and top-scored with 52.

"He has had some good games against us, but then we have also enjoyed our success against him," said Lehmann, who was suspended for five games by match referee Clive Lloyd during the triangular series in Australia for issuing a racial slur against rival Sri Lankans last month. Lehmann said he could not wait to get into the park against a very good batting side. "We are aware they are a very good batting side," said Lehmann adding "but then we are also the best bowling side in the world."

Besides Tendulkar, India has Saurav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and Virender Sehwag in its ranks, backed by young guns Yuvraj Singh, Mohammed Kaif and Dinesh Mongia. But Australia boasts of an attack consisting of Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie, Brett Lee, Ian Harvey and Brad Hogg and hardly seem to be missing Shane Warne, now back home. The left-hander though termed the Indians as a "dangerous side," but said the inconsistency of their opponents could benefit the Aussies.

"India is a bit like Pakistan these day. When it is good it is very good otherwise it looks pretty ordinary. "It is a potentially very dangerous batting side and we are aware of it. At the same time, we are very pleased with our performance in recent past." Lehmann also spoke highly about India's two world class spinners - Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble - and said it would be a keen contest against them. "We recognise India has two top class spinners in Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble. But we have done well in the past and are ready for them." India and Australia met in the Super Six stage in the last World Cup in England in 1999, a game in which Australia was a runaway winner.

Lehmann said he nearly quit the game after being branded a racist and banned for five One-day Internationals. The storm erupted after the South Australian was heard to make a racist comment as he entered the dressing room following his run-out in a game against Sri Lanka last month. "It's been by far the toughest period of my life," he said. "I contemplated giving the game away. I gave it a lot of thought. I was very unhappy with the way things transpired. "To be branded a racist is a pretty tough call. Everyone knows who I am and what I'm like, and I'm definitely not one of those."

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