Cricket legend Kapil Dev is backing India to win their third Champions Trophy next month, saying the team has the ability to go the distance in the 50-over tournament.
India, who beat hosts England in the 2013 final, have retained eight players from that successful campaign including skipper Virat Kohli.
Senior players like former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who lifted the trophy at Edgbaston, and premier spinner Ravichandran Ashwin feature in the 15-man Indian squad to go to England and Wales.
India edged past England 2-1 during their one-day international series in January, with the players continuing their good showing in Tests and Twenty20 matches.
“The way they are playing, yes, definitely…I believe we have the team and the ability,“ Kapil said of India’s chances of defending their title in the tournament starting June 1.
As long as India stay clear of injuries “I don’t see any reason why we can’t win the event,” Kapil said.
“I know the opposition is very very tough in England. The good part is that we won last time when we played there and that is an advantage,” Kapil told reporters at the unveiling of a wax work figure of himself in New Delhi.
The legendary all-rounder also billed India as favourites in their much-anticipated clash with arch-rivals Pakistan on June 4 in Birmingham, saying they “look much better on paper”.
But the 1983 World Cup-winning captain added that England will be the team to beat in the eight-team tournament with home conditions giving the Eoin Morgan-led side the edge.
England have undergone a major overhaul since their unceremonious exit in the group stages of the 2015 World Cup.
“You can’t rule out any team but England will be very very tough playing in England and their team is quite good. They know the conditions better than anybody else,” said Kapil.
Kapil, 58, lauded India’s impact players like Ashwin and Dhoni.
“If you look at Ashwin, he is an all-rounder. It’s not only a fast bowler who can hit hard who should be called an all-rounder,” said Kapil, the only cricketer to take over 400 wickets and 5000 plus runs in test cricket.
“You look at Jadeja, Dhoni, they are fabulous all-rounders. Any player who can do more than one job, two jobs, like Dhoni keeps wicket and bats, they become all-rounders.”