Optimistic Harbhajan predicts India will defend Champions Trophy crown

IANS Feeds
Optimistic Harbhajan predicts India will defend Champions Trophy crown

Dubai, April 12 (IANS) Star India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, who was on Wednesday named as one of the ambassadors for next month’s International Cricket Council (ICC) Champions Trophy, is confident that India will be able to defend the crown they won in 2013.

The 36-year-old Turbanator, who was a member of the India side which shared the 2002 trophy with Sri Lanka in Colombo, said the upcoming Champions Trophy, to be played from June 1 to 18 in England and Wales, assumes extra significance because the 50-over World Cup is just two years away, and will be played in the same conditions.

Harbhajan, a veteran of 236 One-day Internationals (ODI) has no doubt that the men-in-blue have everything in them to defend their title, although he expected stiff competition from the other seven sides.

“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 wrote in his column on the ICC website.

“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.”

“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. The weather and pitch conditions in England are unique, and a few days of tune-up will only help.”

“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,” he added.

The Punjab tweaker, who currently is fighting for his spot in the national team with the likes of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, said whoever is selected in squad is a match-winner in his own right.

“In the last edition four years ago, India won every game. The squad was that good. I don’t know what the squad will be for the upcoming tournament, but I can assure you that every player in the 15-member touring party will be a proven match-winner,” he said.

Besides Harbhajan, Shahid Afridi of Pakistan, Bangladesh’s Habibul Bashar, Ian Bell of England, Shane Bond of New Zealand, Australia’s Mike Hussey, Kumar Sangakkara of Sri Lanka and Graeme Smith of South Africa were on Wednesday unveiled as the ambassadors with exactly 50 days to go before the first ball is bowled in the tournament opener between England and Bangladesh at The Oval.

This is published unedited from the IANS feed.