x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Tendulkar: racism row will not mar tour

Sachin Tendulkar is confident the racism row that marred India's tour of Australia in January will not cast a shadow on next month's Test series against their top-ranked opponents.

Sachin Tendulkar.
Sachin Tendulkar.

MUMBAI // Sachin Tendulkar is confident the racism row that marred India's tour of Australia in January will not cast a shadow on next month's Test series against the world's top-ranked team. "I don't think there is any friction between us," Tendulkar said today. "As far as the Indian team is concerned, we would want to be competitive but play in the right spirit. I am very sure that the Australians would want to do the same thing."

India threatened to pull out of the series in Australia after the spinner Harbhajan Singh was initially found guilty of racially abusing all-rounder Andrew Symonds in the acrimonious second Test in Sydney. A standoff between the teams ended after the charge was downgraded on appeal to using abusive language and the bowler let off with a fine. Australia won the series 2-1. Symonds was omitted from the touring squad named last week after missing a compulsory team meeting to go fishing during Australia's recent limited-overs series against Bangladesh.

"I do agree they don't happen every weekend," Tendulkar said of the row. "But such things have happened in the past as well." Australia arrive this month in India ahead for the four-match series which begins on Oct 9 with the first Test in Bangalore. Tendulkar, who returns from his latest injury layoff in a premier domestic game next week, played down talk that the tourists were a weak unit. Australia named uncapped leg-spinner Bryce McGain, who could make his Test debut at the age of 36, and offspinner Jason Krejza in the squad to replace the now retired Stuart MacGill.

"As we all know it (Australia) is the number one team in the world. They will come here with serious force," Tendulkar said. "They still have a lot of experienced players in the team. It is not that it is a completely transformed side with no senior players in the team," he added. Tendulkar put the rivalry against Australia over the one against neighbours Pakistan. "I think it has become bigger only because of the competitiveness," he said. "All the series we have played in the recent past, taking from 2001, they have all been close ones.

"Australians like good standard of play, and they enjoy healthy competition. We were able to surprise them on occasions." *Reuters