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ICC Champions Trophy: Michael Clarke backs Virat Kohli-led India to reach final

Former Australia skipper Michael Clarke predicted that Virat Kohli-led Indian cricket team would play his former side in the final of the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy

cricket Updated: May 13, 2017 19:39 IST
Virat Kohli and his teammates’ lack of form in IPL 2017 will have no bearing on India’s ICC Champions Trophy campaign, former Australia captain Michael Clarke said.
Virat Kohli and his teammates’ lack of form in IPL 2017 will have no bearing on India’s ICC Champions Trophy campaign, former Australia captain Michael Clarke said.(BCCI)

Not often do Australians and New Zealanders agree on things but when it comes to the quality of Indian cricketers in general and the batsmen in particular, two events here on Saturday produced an opinion that united Michael Clarke and Tim Southee.

Clarke even predicted that India would play Australia in the final and hoped his former team would win by one run.

“It’s a different format; you get more chance to build your innings. I don’t think the Indian batsmen will be too concerned about their form or lack of it in the IPL. They will have enough time to prepare for the Champions Trophy (beginning on June 1),” said Clarke.

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“There will be a confident India. They won the Champions Trophy last time and have had success in shorter format in UK. They have a good mix of youth and experience in the team. I am backing India and Australia to play the final. Hope Australia win by one run.”

Speaking at a separate function to announce a tie-up between New Zealand Cricket and the milk brand Amul for the Champions Trophy, Southee too made light of the lack of form of Virat Kohli and others.

“There’s a reason why they are such good players and they don’t stay out of form for too long. I’m sure he (Virat) is working extremely hard. I am sure he will adjust to the conditions. There is a reason why he is the best batsman in the world. He will step up as captain of Indian side as well,” said Southee, who plays for Mumbai Indians.

READ | Virender Sehwag backs out of form Virat Kohli ahead of ICC Champions Trophy

Clarke, however, added a rider to his prediction. “If there’s swing and seam, our pacers (Mitchell) Starc, (James) Pattinson, (Josh) Hazlewood, (Pat) Cummins, can be tough to face. South Africa too have good pacers,” he said.

“But if it’s hot and the wicket spins, there are no better exponents of it than (Ravichandran) Ashwin and (Ravindra) Jadeja. In Jadeja, the luxury you have is a very good spinner who can bat. If it turns, those two spinners can do a lot of damage to other teams.”

And this was where the Kiwis and the Australian disagreed. Kolkata Knight Riders’ Trent Boult, who too was part of the event to announce the sponsorship deal for the Champions Trophy, felt most teams cover all bases in the bowling department, having had the “experience of playing in different conditions around the globe.”

READ | Virender Sehwag backs out of form Virat Kohli ahead of ICC Champions Trophy

And anyway as bowlers, Southee said they are not expecting much from the tournament that features the top eight cricket countries. “There have been some very high-scoring games in England over the past couple of years. Hopefully, seam bowlers will get little more than a little bit of assistance but you get pretty good batting wickets in England as well,” he said.

Boult said it could be a challenge transitioning from T20 to the 50-over format but Southee felt T20 can help sharpen skills that would be useful in the Champions Trophy. Such as slower balls. “There’s room for using T20 skills in ODI.”