Dubai, Veteran off-spinner Harbhajan Singh believes defending champions India have the strength, ability and stability to retain the Champions Trophy in June.
“India is the defending champion, and I sincerely believe that we have the strength, ability and stability to defend our crown. We just need to be at the top of our game,” Harbhajan said in a column.
“Let’s not forget that this tournament will feature the world’s eight top-ranked teams. So every team is going to fancy its chances. It will come down to the team that holds its nerve on the day.
“If you ask me to stick my neck out and predict the winner, I will happily say India. Yes, I believe this team can defend the title it won in 2013.”
The 36-year-old, who is currently playing in the IPL for Mumbai Indians, feels India will need to quickly adapt to the conditions in England.
“On a high after a successful home season, India will be keen on adapting quickly to the conditions in England. If we can touch base a few days before the start of the tournament, then it will help us acclimatise,” he wrote.
“The weather and pitch conditions in England are unique, and a few days of tune-up will only help.”
The ninth edition of the tournament will be played from June 1 to 18 in England and Wales and Harbhajan said it will be more important this year considering that the 2019 World Cup will be held in similar conditions.
“This year, the ICC Champions Trophy assumes extra significance because the World Cup is just two years away, and will be played in the same conditions.”
Harbhajan reckons that a global event such as Champions Trophy will be a test of the hard work put by the teams in the last four years.
“In bilateral ties, you win some and you lose some.
However, tournaments like these literally define the two, three or four years that you may have invested in the process of team building, defining clear-cut roles and formulating team strategies,” he wrote.
“You know you are competing with the best teams. And, the format of the tournament is such that you have to push your limits and play at the highest level. When you give your best at a global event, the victory cake tastes even sweeter.
“Needless to say, the number of global events you win define you as a team, or even as a cricketing nation. It becomes the yardstick of sustained excellence.”