Fast bowler Brett Lee says Australia's upcoming Test tour of India will be an "unofficial world championship" marked by a rivalry which now overshadows that over the Ashes.
"The Ashes (between Australia and England) has tradition and history, but India have been playing well for the past two years. They are perhaps closest to us," Lee told reporters during a private visit to Kolkata.
"In this context, the India series can be rated as the unofficial world championship. We have grown up watching the Ashes on TV sets, but this series is going to be bigger."
Australia is scheduled to play four Test matches in India in October.
Lee, who missed Australia's last tour of India in 2001 due to an injury, said he was keen to give a good performance this time but warned that his side faced a huge task to beat India at home.
"Playing in India is a huge challenge and requires a lot of grit," said the Australian, who has so far grabbed 139 wickets in 37 Tests.
"I have never been able to tour India for a Test series and hope it will be different this October. I plan to play the full series this time and give a good show," said Lee.
It would be possible, he added, to beat India at home despite the hosts having a strong batting line-up.
"It is possible to beat India in India. The Australians set a certain benchmark and Ricky Ponting, like Sourav Ganguly likes to lead from the front," he said.
"It will not be easy because India have six (of the) top batsmen in the world. The pitches will be flat and help spinners, but the victory in Sri Lanka was an enormous boost and everyone is eager to come and play in India."
Ponting led Australia to a 3-0 sweep in Sri Lanka in March in his first Test series as captain. Lee was absent with an injury.
"India are a very talented and exciting side under Ganguly and they have given us really good competition," Lee said.