Pressure builds on India's fab four

Published: Tuesday, September 30, 2008, 11:43 [IST]
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Bangalore: Fab-four of Indian team are facing severe pressure ahead of the series against Australia starting in Bangalore on Oct 9.

India's four most senior batsmen, strength of the national side for more than a decade, are facing a debate about their age and whether the time is ripe to inject fresh blood into the test squad. Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman each fared poorly in the recent Sri Lanka series

Ganguly's place is under maximum threat when the selectors meet on Wednesday to pick the team for the first two tests after the 36-year-old former captain was left out Irani Cup, regarded as a selection match.

India's no 1 batsman Tendulkar, 35, has asked the cricket-crazy country not to stir up the issue of age ahead of the high-profile series.

"It's India versus Australia. It's not certain individuals versus certain individuals in their team," Tendulkar told a news conference after the opening day of the preparatory camp at the National Cricket Academy on Monday.

"It's about performing, and that is what the whole team should concentrate on doing. We would just like to focus on our performance," added Tendulkar, who is 76 runs short of retired West Indian Brian Lara's world record 11,953 test runs.

"I would leave that (matters of selection) to the captain, the coach, and the selectors. They have certain ideas in their minds and we have to abide by that."

Tendulkar also cautioned India not to underestimate Australia, who are rebuilding after a series of high-profile retirements.

Australia won a four-test series 2-1 four years ago to record their first series victory on Indian soil in 35 years, but only skipper Ricky Ponting, Matthew Hayden, Michael Clarke and Simon Katich from the current squad have test experience in India.

"They still have players who have played a lot of first-class cricket back home," Tendulkar said. "If they haven't played international cricket, it doesn't mean that they cannot challenge us.

"They have played a lot of cricket, and we will like to respect that fact. And we are on our toes."

Australia decided to go ahead with the tour after a security review following blasts in the Indian capital on Sept. 13 that killed at least 20 people and injured more than 90.

On Saturday, a bomb blast in a New Delhi market place killed two people and wounded 22.

"I can't comment on what the Australians feel, but can definitely say that we are in our homeland and I don't think anyone will look to harm us," Tendulkar said.

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