India have the firepower to defend ICC Champions Trophy title: Ravi Shastri to India TV
Captain Virat Kohli-led Team India are out to defend their ICC Champions Trophy title in England after a gruelling 46 days of the Indian Premier League.
With a strong squad, blended with experience and youth, India are termed as one of the hot favorites to lift the title.
Speaking to India TV ahead of the mega tournament, former India Team Director Ravi Shastri believed Kohli's men have the required strength and ability to win their record third title.
Shastri said the current Indian team is much better than the one which won the tournament in 2013, also held in England.
"India have the firepower to defend the Champions Trophy title. The team which we have now is better than the one which won the title in 2013. This team has the experience, players are mostly similar and I think captain Virat Kohli and all the youngsters in the team have learnt so much in the last two years. I definitely think this team with a potent pace attack can defend the title," Shastri told India TV.
However, the former India captain said the shaky opening combination can be a cause of worry for the team. India's opening will be led by Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, who replaced an injured regular opener Lokesh Rahul in the squad.
Shastri said Rohit and Dhawan's inexperience of playing together at the top can create pressure on the middle order.
"The shaky opening combination is cause of worry for India. Regular opener Lokesh Rahul is out with an injury and the two openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma have not played with each other much. It will be important for them to get used to each other. So, the performance of the openers will be the key for India," he said.
KOHLI'S POOR RECORD
Shastri also refused to read too much into Kohli's poor record in England and was confident that the Delhi stalwart will bounce back into form in the Champions Trophy.
During India's tour of England in 2014, Kohli ended with 134 runs at an average of 13.40 in the five Tests. He scored just 54 runs in the four ODIs at an average of 18.
"Virat has also come a long way since the dismal tour of England. He went to Australia after that where he hammered four hundreds in four Tests. He has been in terrific form in all formats of the game ever since. There's a lot of difference between the Kohli who went to England in 2014 and the Kohli of 2017. Kohli just has to be a little calm and he needs to give some time to himself and the runs will follow," Shastri said.
Shastri was confident that former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and star all-rounder Yuvraj Singh's presence in the middle-order will improve India's chances in England.
"Dhoni's experience will tremendously help India in England. Dhoni has a terrific record in ICC tournaments. But the top order needs to fire for Dhoni and Yuvraj to take the show forward in the middle order. The top order must give them the platform. Yuvraj has returned to form which is a good sign. He is a clean striker of the ball and in the Indian Premier League, he has performed well. We can see the determination back into his eyes," he concluded.