2017 ICC Champions Trophy: Stephen Fleming Calls India Favourites For Pakistan Clash

Former New Zealand skipper Stephen Fleming is of the opinion that Team India has an advantage over arch-rivals Pakistan before they would wrestle in their respective opening game of the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy on Sunday at Edgbaston which was also the venue for both the team in 2013 edition.

“Pakistan are a very talented side, but they are unpredictable. India have quality players with experience, whereas Pakistan are probably on the way up,” Fleming was quoted as saying by PTI.

The 44-year-old left-handed batsman and stalwart of the Black Caps believe India are favourites for the ICC’s mega tournament while stating England, South Africa and Australia had done well to become perfect contenders for the coveted title, as he further picked two finalists with the likes of hosts England and South Africa.

Fleming, who has been part of the defunct Indian Premier League (IPL), franchise Chennai Super Kings, believes the current team is enriched with experience and more stronger than 2013 when they lifted the coveted title in a rain-truncated game against hosts England.

“India are one of the favourites. There are four teams in particular which stand out for me. They are England, South Africa, Australia and India. They are definitely in the top bracket,” Fleming asserted.

While talking about his national team, Fleming reiterated the big-match players have to give their best in every match of the group games, as he feels Kane Williamson-led side would go through the semi-final stage.

“They are just snapping at the heels of the top four and it is going to take performances. They [players] can easily qualify into that semi-final and then it would be just two games,” Fleming predicts.

On the other side, the Christchurch-born Fleming revealed the Sarfraz-led side has been inconsistent in the recent past in the 50-over format while adding India is more complacent and balanced on the paper.

“Pakistan are a little inconsistent given the young nature of their side and that’s where India have an edge. India are more settled and played together a lot,” Fleming remarked.

The Kiwis prominent figure in the field of cricket, Fleming, who has been the head coach of Rising Pune Supergiant-led by Steven Smith has effusively praised the players.

“They [India] have also got great experience in senior players like Shikhar Dhawan, (Virat) Kohli, (MS) Dhoni, (Ravichandra) Ashwin and (Ravindra) Jadeja. You have got players all the way through, even Rohit Sharma,” Fleming said.

It is pertinent to note, Fleming has been closely following the local pool of talent in India.

“I watched these players recently in the Indian Premier League. [Jasprit] Bumrah and Hardik Pandya in particular are outstanding players,” Fleming added.

According to Fleming, the right-handed batsman Ajinkya Rahane would be an ideal option to start off the things after working with the Pune-based outfit.

“In England, without knowing the overhead conditions, weather its going to swing or seam, he is a type of player who you can base your innings around and he is not far away from good form,” Fleming said on Rahane.

Fleming has praised top-order batsman Ajinkya Rahane while terming him a key figure in the line-up and ‘technically good’.

“Ajinkya [Rahane] was mentally and physically tired after the summer. He will be a key part of the side,” Rahane concluded.

Fleming, who featured in his first international game in 1994, before playing his last international fixture in 2007 against Sri Lanka at Kingston has amassed 8.037 runs in his 280 One-day Internationals at an average of 32.40.

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June 3, 2017 at 11:33AM

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