Irfan Pathan backs India to defend Champions Trophy title

Karachi [Pakistan], May 25 : Indian all-rounder Irfan Pathan has backed the Virat Kohli-led side to successfully defend the Champions Trophy beginning June 1 in England and Wales.

India won the last Champions Trophy in 2013 and head into the marquee event as favourites after a hugely successful home season with 10 Test wins.

The Men in Blue are number one in the Test rankings after series victories over New Zealand, England, Bangladesh and Australia, and would hope to carry that form into the Champions Trophy.

"The Indian ODI team has been playing well in recent times and the players selected for the Champions Trophy squad have been in top form as well.

Look at the examples of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami and others who have performed excellently in the IPL," Pathan said in an interview with "The same applies for the batsmen as well.

So, the fact that all of these players are in good form is crucial for the chances of any team in such a high-profile competition." "Given all these facts, I am very hopeful that the Indian team can repeat the performances of the 2013 edition of the Champions Trophy.

That was a piece of history that I was also part of and I feel that the Indian squad of today are strong contenders to become champions again in 2017," he added.

Kohli and his team will play South Africa, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in Group B, while England, Australia, Bangladesh and New Zealand form Group A.

The 32-year-old further said that Indian bowling unit consisting of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah would utilize the swing conditions on offer in England to the utmost, which thus makes the team a very strong unit.

"Based on my knowledge of English conditions where the ball swings a lot, the Indian bowlers are very strong in that aspect of the game and that makes India a very strong unit," he said.

India will begin its title defence against arch rival Pakistan on June 4 in Birmingham following matches against Sri Lanka and South Africa on June 8 and June 11 respectively.

Squad : Virat Kohli (capt), R Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Shikhar Dhawan, MS Dhoni (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Kedar Jadhav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ajinkya Rahane, Umesh Yadav, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammed Shami.

Source: ANI