Harbhajan will help me play better: Hayden

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/h/hayden1_ap.jpg' class='caption'> Matthew Hayden feels it would be a challenge to take on Harbhajan Singh on Indian conditions and said the off-spinner would help him play better.

Updated: October 09, 2008 17:39 IST
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Australia opening batsman Matthew Hayden feels it would be a challenge to take on Harbhajan Singh on Indian conditions and said the off-spinner would help him play better when the Test series gets underway in Bangalore from October 9.

The left-hander, who faced flak from Cricket Australia after calling Harbhajan "an obnoxious little weed" during India's turbulent tour Down Under, drew encouragement from comments made by Harbhajan that he is not out to make friends against Australia.

"There is a lot less of the personal tension with Harbhajan than what gets made out. In a lot of ways, I feel if that is affecting him, it's a good thing for Hayden because I don't feel I am harbouring any massive resentment. I think he is a very, very good bowler and I think it is challenging every ball to play well against him," said the batsman, who heads to Bangalore with a superb average of 61 in India.

"As you know, over the years those kind of tensions have always made me play better, and I will certainly be using that to my advantage," Hayden was quoted as saying in the 'Sydney Morning Herald'.

"It (the series) is going to have Test match tension and I don't feel threatened by that. The only thing that threatens me is what balls he can deliver to get me out. To me, that has been a great source of motivation, not just (against) Harbhajan. They've got a very solid bowling attack right around," said the batsman who will turn 37 during the series.

Hayden has been successful against Harbhajan employing the sweep shot with ease during Australia's 2001 tour.

However, things didn't start well for him this time round as he could make only 20 and 14 in the warm-up game against the Board President's XI in Hyderabad.

But Hayden said he was not worried since this was his first serious hit following his Achilles injury in April.

The opener is one of the four members of Australia's squad to have played Test cricket in India and the relative inexperience against spin bowling department was evident where 10 of the 12 wickets fell to the turning ball.

The game against the Board President's XI also exposed Australia's lack of quality spinner with Jason Krejza going for 199 without a single wicket.

Hayden, though, was reluctant to read too much into Australia's performance and said the team has learnt a lot from the tour match, not least adjusting to the lower bounce and shorter carry of the Indian pitches.

"Even looking at where you are in the slips cordon, you're so close. To Binga (Brett Lee), I was seven yards closer to the bat than where I would normally be in Australia -- that's a long way. Those things are really different here, and you have to get your mind into that space where you have a strategy to deal with it.

"I don't think there is any one factor we are really struggling (at), but we'll see."

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