India confident of defending title - Virat Kohli
India captain Virat Kohli is confident that his team is well equipped to defend the title in the upcoming ICC Champions Trophy to be played in England and Wales.
Kohli was part of the team led by MS Dhoni when they won the title in 2013 when they defeated the host England by five runs in a rain shortened 20-over per side final.
India had three batters in the top five leading run scorer in the previous edition with Shikhar Dhawan topping the list while Ravindra Jadeja headed the list of bowlers with 12 wickets from five games that came with an economy of under four.
Kohli's men last played an ODI was during the home series against England in January where they won 2-1 but most of their cricketers were seen recently competing hard in the Indian Premier League 2016 tournament that will provide them some confidence heading into the all-important series.
Recalling the 2013 edition, Kohli believes the team has all the right ingredients to succeed in their title defence in a challenging format where they will face Pakistan, Sri Lanka and South Africa in the group stage.
“I am very excited to be playing as captain in my first major ICC competition,” he said. “As far as the team goes, we won last time because our fast bowlers did very well, our spinners were strong and our opening batsman did well.
“They were the main three factors. This year the team is a lot fitter, the cricketers are a lot more mature because that was a very young group four years ago. It has gained a lot of experience in the last three or four years. I love the tournament because it represents a challenge from the (word) go.
“In the ICC Cricket Wold Cup you have a league and a lot of games to play but here it is group games and then either the semis or you are out.”
Apart from Kohli himself, the squad boasts of proven match-winners Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni with the latter stepping down from the captaincy earlier this year to prolong his career as a wicket-keeper batsman.
The 28-year-old believes Dhoni is far from being over and can be a force to reckon, if he is allowed to express himself.
“We needed to strengthen our lower middle order contribution. Too much burden was on MS,” he said.
“He was not able to express himself. But now we are balanced, we have good fast bowlers, depth in batting and the series against England [In January] sealed it for us."
India will play warm-up games against New Zealand and Bangladesh before beginning their campaign against arch-rivals Pakistan on 4th June in Birmingham.
© Cricket World 2017