Hayden wants to give Aussies a launching pad

Published: Saturday, October 25, 2003, 20:55 [IST]
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New Delhi: World record-smashing Australian opener Matthew Hayden has sounded a warning to bowlers ahead of his team's first match in the triangular series, saying he relished batting in India. "I love batting here," said Hayden, who hammered 380 against Zimbabwe in the opening Test at Perth this month to surpass West Indian batsman Brian Lara's record of 375. "It's nice to be back. I really like the conditions here. I love the challenges of the turning ball and the slowness of pitches," said the left-hander, who turns 32 next Wednesday. World champions Australia open their campaign with a day-night game against India at Gwalior on Sunday. New Zealand, the third team in the fray, shared points with the hosts in the rain- hit opening match of the tournament at Madras on Thursday. Hayden came to India as a virtual unknown in 2001 with Steve Waugh's team, but returned as a star after plundering 549 runs in three Tests with two hundreds and as many half-centuries. "The wickets are different in India. There aren't huge grounds and the ball carries really well. It's really great for the batters," said Hayden, who has so far scored 4,037 runs in Tests and 2,533 in One-day Internationals. "Just see how the teams regularly make and chase 300 runs in India. In Australia, a total of 250-plus is considered good, but here it must be 350-plus to make it safe." Hayden made his Test debut against South Africa in 1994, but struggled to cement his place in the formidable Australian side before resurrecting his international career in India two years ago. "I had been on the sidelines for a long time watching others play and desperately wanting to play. That was the motivation and, for me, motivation comes from within," he said. The left-hander scored just one century in his first 13 Tests, but 15 in his next 33 matches to establish himself as one of the most consistent as well as feared batsmen in contemporary cricket. Australia, who beat India in the World Cup final in South Africa early this year, face a tough task this time as they are missing key pacemen Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie and Brett Lee due to injuries. Hayden, however, said the challenge would bring the best out in him. "I enjoy the competitive environment," he said. "I like to give Australia a launching pad. I love to be in the middle. It's so peaceful there. I just love batting. It's something I've been doing since I was three years old." Hayden said the world record had not changed his approach to batting. "It has not changed anything," he said. "It only reinforced what I had been doing earlier -- bat to a plan. I'll continue to do so. The game is still the same."

'Record would not change my batting style'

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