India-Aus series unofficial World Cup: Lee

Published: Monday, May 3, 2004, 21:06 [IST]
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Kolkata :Australian speedster Brett Lee on Monday said the coming India-Australia four-Test series in India could be termed as the 'unofficial world championship' and was more important than the Ashes.

"Ashes has some tradition, history. However, India has been playing really well for the last two years under Sourav Ganguly. I feel they are perhaps closest (to us). So, in the present context this series can be rated as the unofficial world championship," Lee said at a function in Kolkata.

The Australian pacer lavishly praised the Indian batting line-up saying that they were the most difficult to bowl in world cricket now.

"V V S Laxman, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Ganguly are all class batsmen," he said.

But Lee singled out Tendulkar as the toughest to bowl at. "It has been very satisfying that I have got his wicket on a couple of occasions."

Lee said that he was looking forward to the coming engagement in India beginning in October, as he had never played in a Test series in India.

Asked about Australia's chances in the coming series, Lee said, "It will be difficult for us. They have a strong batting line-up. But yes, I think it is possible to beat India in their backyard. Australia has set a certain benchmark in world cricket."

"(Australian captain) Ricky Ponting has led the side from the front just like Ganguly. They are the two best captains in present day world cricket," the 27-year-old bowler said.

The Australian pacer felt his side's 3-0 victory over Sri Lanka in March had given them a lot of confidence in the run up to the Indian tour.

Referring to India's tour Down Under late last year, he said that Ganguly's boys did not have to encounter the sort of wickets one expected to get in Australia.

"When you tour Australia, you expect bouncy wickets just as India normally has spin friendly tracks. But in the recent series, India got to play on slow, flat wickets. And when they got a fast wicket in Perth, they crumbled," he said.

Asked to rate the new breed of fast bowlers in Indian cricket, Lee said it was good news for the game that India now had good quicks.

He was impressed with Balaji and Pathan though, he said, he had seen very little of them.

"They have pace and fire, essential qualities for fast bowlers," the taker of 139 Test wickets with an average of 31.66, said.

Lee said that speed was more important for pace bowlers than control. "But it is not that they should have only pace and no control. In Australia we teach the boys that they mustbowl with speed."

Lee said he did not believe that Pakistan's tearaway Shoaib Akhtar had played the Test series feigning an injury.

"I don't think there is any controversy on that. If a fast bowler can bowl, he will definitely bowl for his country," Lee said.

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