New Delhi: Australian batsman Michael Hussey considers India the toughest country to tour and says the October series here is ideal preparation for his team's fourth World Cup title defence next year.
The World Cup would be jointly hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh from February next year and Hussey feels his three-time champion team would benefit by playing here in the run-up to the showpiece event.
"India is the hardest place for Australia to tour. In India, the pitches are difficult, the conditions are hard... the heat and humidity, it's tough," Hussey said.
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"I actually feel there will be a lot of positives about going to India for three Tests and a couple of one-dayers , particularly the Tests. A soon as we get there, we will spend as much time as possible to get used to the conditions. We will try to adapt as quickly as possible and that will hold us in good stead," he said.
"We generally play good cricket in India and that will give us the confidence. We will have to be patient on the flat pitches and against the spin of Harbhajan Singh. I think facing him will also prepare us for facing Graeme Swann in the Ashes series. The India tour and the Ashes after that will condition us for the World Cup's high-pressure situations," he added.
The 35-year-old left-hander expects the two Tests and three one-dayers against India to be hard-fought and despite their inconsistent performances of late, he rated Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men as tough competitors.
"I think they have got a good team in both forms of the game. The have got a great blend now. Some very good youngsters are coming up, so we are expecting a tough fight from them. I think, not just this series, even at the World Cup, they would be among the favourites in home conditions because they have got a good blend," he explained.
"We can't worry about one player in the Indian team. We have to be prepared for all of them. If we focus too much on Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag, then VVS Laxman will do well," he added.
The Aussies have played 11 Test series in India and won just four of them, while losing five including the last series in 2008 but Hussey said his teammates are better-adapted to Indian conditions now, courtesy the Indian Premier League.
"Playing in the IPL has obviously been very helpful. Even otherwise, I think we have played a lot in the sub-continent. We have got to make sure that we are comfortable and adapt quickly when we come here," he said.
Another plus for Australia ahead of the tour this time is having former India coach Greg Chappell as a full-time selector. Hussey feels the former captain brings with him a wealth of experience and knowledge about the Indian team which will come in handy during the series.
"Obviously Greg's knowledge of cricket and everything in general would be very helpful for the team. He would be an asset. He's got to be helpful because he knows the Indian players so well," he said.
As for the security worries that seem to precede every Australian tour, Hussey said the issue is not for the players to think of as Cricket Australia takes the call on this matter.India in Sri Lanka
"Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers Association have a very exhaustive process for every tour and not just India. They recommend whether we should go or not. But I am not anticipating any trouble because the last I toured India, the security was the best in the world," he said.
At 35, Hussey is not the youngest of cricketers around but asked whether he would give retirement a thought post the World Cup, the middle-order batsman said he doesn't have the time to consider the issue as of now.
"I haven't really thought about it. I got my chance to play in the team after slogging it out for 10 years, so I don't plan to give it up just like that," he quipped.