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India vs Pakistan: IND’s shaky middle-order a concern, says Stephen Fleming

Indian cricket team will have an advantage in their ICC Champions Trophy match against Pakistan cricket team as Virat Kohli’s side is more experienced than the Sarfraz Ahmed-led young squad, feels former New Zealand cricke team skipper Stephen Fleming.

icc champions trophy 2017 Updated: Jun 03, 2017 21:01 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Champions Trophy 2017,ICC Champions Trophy,India vs Pakistan
Indian cricket teams Rohit Sharma and skipper Virat Kohli (2nd right) during a practice session ahead of their ICC Champions Trophy Group B match against Pakistan cricket team at Edgbaston in Birmingham, England, on Saturday.(AP)

Indian cricket team is regarded favourite to beat Pakistan cricket team when the traditional rivals clash in their opening ICC Champions Trophy match at Edgbaston, Birmingham, on Sunday.

However, skipper Virat Kohli will have to be wary of his team’s fragile middle-order in this high-voltage contest, feels former New Zealand skipper Stephen Fleming.

“India are favourites for me as they have a well-balanced and experienced side. There are some areas Pakistan can exploit. If they don’t allow their top three batsmen to get some runs, then the middle order for India is a little bit unsettled,” Fleming, who is part of ESPNCricinfo’s expert panel, told HT on Saturday.

Pak lack experience

“They (Pakistan bowlers) have the opportunity to make some breakthroughs. But Pakistan I guess needed a little bit more experience. They have a lot of younger players and since it is a big tournament I think India would be favourites for this match,” he said.

India are unbeaten against Pakistan in the 50- and 20-over World Cups, but their win-loss record in the ICC Champions Trophy against their arch-rivals is 1-2.

Fleming said India’s past record against Pakistan would matter little. “No, they don’t (have any bearing) because there was a lot of time in between. A series like South Africa and England, where they have just competed, you take note of it as the form and confidence from that series matters. But when it’s been years since they last played each other, I don’t take much note of it,” said Fleming.

Rare meetings

India have not played Pakistan in a bilateral ODI game since 2013. They have won both the games they have played since then, in the 2013 Champions Trophy and in the World Cup in 2015.

Several experts have expressed reservations over India taking the IPL route as preparation for the ICC Champions Trophy. Fleming said: “In some aspects, yes. Players playing competitive cricket and under pressure are important because Champions Trophy is all about being able to put pressure and resist pressure.

“Some of the challenges involved is that batters are used to playing 20 overs and bowlers (are used to) bowling four overs. It’s a lot different for the likes of Lasith Malinga. Obviously, there are a lot more overs (to be bowled) in the (50-over) game which requires a lot more stamina. But most players these days go from one format to the other pretty easily. Those playing at a high level of competition will always have an advantage.”

First Published: Jun 03, 2017 20:45 IST