ICC Champions Trophy 2017 | England will be hard to get past, says Virat Kohli

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ICC Champions Trophy 2017 | England will be hard to get past, says Virat Kohli

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SportsCafe Desk

05/26/2017

Virat Kohli has described hosts England as the side to beat at next month's Champions Trophy. The India skipper also said judging by England's dazzling record in the recent past, India will need to step up their game if they are to retain the crown that they won in 2013 under MS Dhoni in England.

The 2017 Champions Trophy will kick off on June 1 with England playing Bangladesh at the Oval. Speculations on who will win the tournament and who will be the toughest side to beat have been doing the rounds since the announcement of the venue and England have won a majority of the votes.

"I think England are a very, very balanced side," Kohli told a press conference in London. "One of the two best balanced sides in the world at the moment. They bat right down to 9 or 10, they are all explosive players, five or six guys can bat and bowl, and they are gun fielders as well."

England put up a stellar show in the ODI series in India in January. Although they lost the series 2-1, they ran up totals of 350, 366 and 321.

"We experienced that in India, they are pretty hard to get past, and that's something that is going to be a challenge for every other team in the Champions Trophy as well. We always related to England as a very strong Test team, but in last two or three years post [the 2015] World Cup, they've really changed the way they play their cricket.", Kohli said.

"I don't think they've scored anything less than 330 now, which moves the game on pretty rapidly. It is indeed a challenge for all sides that play against them. Credit to them for shaping their short-format cricket so well, and I'm sure they'll be eager to go a long way in this tournament as well," he added.

The setbacks away or at home have not perturbed the English side who have scored over 300 nine times out of ten when they have batted first. They also put up a record total of 444-3 against Pakistan at Trent Bridge last year. .

Asked if he sees any shortcomings in the England team, the India skipper said, "Not at the moment, especially in their conditions, they are pretty strong.

"When a side plays in that manner for so long, when it doesn't click it goes against you pretty quickly. But they have managed to continue that mindset pretty well, I don't see anyone taking a backwards step at any stage of the game, and that is pretty amazing to see.

"For the whole batting line-up to play like that is pretty rare. You always have two or three guys playing through the innings, but for them it's all about attack, throughout the 50 overs which is exciting for the fans and challenging for the opposition. You have to be on top of your game to get past a team like that."

India are No 3 in the ICC ODI rankings, behind top-ranked South Africa and Australia. England are fifth.

"I am very excited to be playing as captain in my first major ICC competition," said Kohli, revealing how confident he was about the Indian team which boasts of a right mix of experience in the likes of Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh and youngsters like Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah.

"As far as the team goes, we won last time because our fast bowlers did very well, our spinners were strong and our opening batsman did well," he said.

"They were the main three factors. This year the team is a lot fitter, the cricketers are a lot more mature because that was a very young group four years ago. It has gained a lot of experience in the last three or four years. I love the tournament because it represents a challenge from the [word] go."

Did you know, If Rohit Sharma was a country, his knock of 264 would have won the 1983, 1987, 1992, 1996 and 1999 World Cup finals.

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