Australia, India big rivals: Tendulkar
Batting superstar Sachin Tendulkar said that India's rivalry with Australia was now even more intense than with long-time arch-enemy Pakistan.
Ahead of Australia's four-Test tour to India, which opens on October 9 in Bangalore, Tendulkar said he expected a fiercely competitive series between two teams who have battled for superiority over recent years.
"I think it (India v Australia) has become bigger largely because of the competitiveness," Tendulkar said.
"All the series between us from 2001 onwards have been very keenly fought and have been very close ones."
In the ill-tempered 2007-2008 series in Australia, India lost the first two Tests but recorded a prized victory over the home team in the third Test in Perth.
"We have gone to Australia and beaten them," Tendulkar stressed.
"We have been able to surprise the Australian team and that's what the Australian public likes: competition and high standards of play. They love to see challenges and competitiveness.
"The fan following for the India-Australia series has definitely increased as compared to say 15 years ago," he added.
The "little master", now aged 35, is closing in on Brian Lara's record for the most runs ever scored in a Test career, but said statistics were not his priority.
"I don't think much about records. I want to enjoy my game. If players focus on their performance, records automatically fall into place," said Tendulkar, speaking to reporters in New Delhi.
"I focus on playing the game well. If it (the record) comes in doing so I will be happy," added the ace batsman, who is only 76 runs short of overtaking Lara's mark of 11,953 runs.
India's last tour of Australia was marked by personal insults between teams, and allegations of racial abuse and bad sportsmanship.
But Tendulkar said he did not expect a repeat of such problems during the upcoming series.
"Talking on behalf of the Indian team, I can say we will play hard but fair and I feel the Australians also will do so," he said.