Chennai: As much as he "enjoys" Sachin Tendulkar's batting, Australian captain Michael Clarke's primary endeavour during the upcoming four-match Test series against India will be to stop the veteran from scoring "too many runs".
"You can have as many plans as possible for Sachin, but he is a great player. He is the greatest I have seen and I have always loved playing against him. His sign of greatness is his longevity and consistency," Clarke told a television channel. "I was walking on the treadmill and watching his 100 in the Irani Cup game. I enjoy his batting but as an Australian captain, I would like to ensure that he doesn't score too many runs," Clarke said.
While the Aussie captain is happy that his team won't be bowling to the greats like Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, who have tormented them in the past, he feels that the younger Indian players would like to stamp their authority on the series.
"It's nice for us that a lot of greats like Dravid and Laxman have retired. It's good that our bowlers don't need to bowl to them, but the new players will like to stamp their authority on the game."
Clarke also cleverly avoided the questions about pressure on India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni after a series of disappointing results in Test matches as well as his form in the longer version of the game.
"Neither do I look too much into past, nor do I look too far ahead… I am not sure whether MS or the Indian team will be giving up too easily, but my focus is on Australian team and we are ready," he said.
Questioned if they have taken a cue from India's home series against England, Clarke said: "Many of us watched the series, but we know how good a team India is. Any team having Sachin will be a team to beat in their own country. But I have learnt one thing about playing in subcontinent… Whether you are the No. 1 bowler or a debutant, patience and consistency will be key to success," he said.
Clarke agreed that Australia's success in the Test series against India would depend largely on how they play spin as well as how they bowl spin. "They have (Ravichandran) Ashwin, (Pragyan) Ojha, (Ravindra) Jadeja and I know that Harbhajan is back in the squad as well. They have a lot of talent. We have been tracking Ashwin closely as he has done well with both bat and ball."
The skipper also didn't agree that his spin trio of Nathan Lyon, Xavier Doherty and Glenn Maxwell are inferior than Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar of England. "I am really excited that we have got spinners like Lyon, Doherty and Maxwell. They can certainly perform well in these conditions."
However, he did agree that his team's strength is the pace department led by Peter Siddle. "Definitely, our fast bowling stocks are very strong. Siddle has shown how to transform talent into performance. Our fast bowlers have really shown a lot of heart and character. They have a lot of respect for me and I have a lot of respect for them.
"I can throw the ball to them at any time and expect wickets. For me, it doesn't matter whether Matthew Wade (wicketkeeper) bowls, but all I need is 20 wickets. The Australian team comes above everything else."