Melbourne: Gautam Gambhir's exclusion from India's squad for the first two Tests against Australia is a "positive" development for the tourists, feels former cricketer Matthew Hayden. Hayden, who had a good tour of India in 2001, said Gambhir formed a "potent" opening combination with Virender Sehwag and the left-hander's exclusion will be a welcome relief for the Australian bowlers.
"The fact that India has dropped Gautum Gambhir is a positive step for Australia," Hayden said about the diminutive left-hander, who struck a century for India A against Australia in a warm-up game on Saturday. He always rallied when playing Australia and that combination of Virender Sehwag and Gambhir was a very potent one ... Gambhir relishes the niggle and returning fire. It was a big surprise they left him out," he was quoted as saying by The Daily Telegraph.
Hayden, who turned out to be a nightmare for the Indian spinners during the 2001 series, came up with a list of dos and don'ts for the touring Australian contingent in order to achieve success on Indian soil. He gave advise to the Australian batsmen on how to tackle the turning ball on Indian pitches.
"Going to India, there is always a big mention of their spinners. I don't think we should buy into that too much. It's a spinning ball, it's not like it is coming down on you at 165km/h," said Hayden, who made an incredible 549 runs at an average of 110 during the 2001 tour of India.
"There is way too much made of various strategies; you can't be thinking you have to go there and change your game. You have to have invested the time to come up with a few scoring options. You just can't sit there and wait for a spinner to dominate you," Hayden said.
"The successful method is not the same for everyone. My strategy was to come forward - more of a height thing. Being so tall, my obvious advantage was my reach. It allowed me to smother spin ... I could play straight down the ground and the sweep shot as well," he added. Hayden also feels India's choice of venue for the first Test of the four-match series was strategic.
"Australia will be playing on pitches with two different soil types. They will start on the red soil in Chennai then black soil in the other three Tests. Red soil pitches provide real spinning conditions, so the choice of venue for the first Test is probably strategic. India will try to get off to a flyer, then they will go to more benign conditions where they will try to drown us in some ways," he said.
Appreciating the diverse culture of India, the burly opener also asked his countrymen to explore the nation during the tour.
"Some of the great experiences I have had on tours were with friends outside the Australian touring party. You have to embrace the Indian experience. I have a great affiliation with their food and a great appreciation for the Indian religions and festivals. The best thing I could say to the Australian cricketers is just open your eyes to new things," he said.