Former New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming believes that Virat Kohli and Co. will have an edge over arch-rivals Pakistan when the Asian giants face off in their Champions Trophy 2017 opener at Edgbaston on Sunday. "India have quality players with experience, whereas Pakistan are probably on the way up. Pakistan are a very talented side, but they are unpredictable. Pakistan are a little inconsistent given the young nature of their side and that's where India have an edge. India are more settled and played together a lot," Fleming told PTI.
Fleming said India were one of the favourites to the lift the Champions Trophy.
"India are one of the favourites. There are four teams in particular which stand out for me. They are England, South Africa, Australia and India. They are definitely in the top bracket," said former left-handed batsman.
'England vs South Africa Final'
When asked to predict the two finalists, Fleming said it would be "England vs South Africa" final.
Heaping praise on the Indian players, Fleming said: "I watched these players recently in the Indian Premier League. (Jasprit) Bumrah and Hardik Pandya in particular are outstanding players. They have also got great experience in senior players like Shikhar Dhawan, (Virat) Kohli, (MS) Dhoni, (Ravichandra) Ashwin and (Ravindra) Jadeja. You have got players all the way through, even Rohit Sharma," he said.
According to the Kiwi legend, defending champions India have a more experience side this time around than what they were when they lifted the Trophy in 2013.
Fleming, who is the coach of Rising Pune Supergiant in IPL and has worked closely with Ajinkya Rahane, termed the Indian middle order batsman a "technically sound".
"Ajinkya was mentally and physically tired after the summer. He played a lot of cricket for India during the home series and after he finished the home series, he was fatigued and we saw some signs in the last 3-4 games in IPL. But he was starting to come back to form," he said.
"He will be a key part of the side. In England, without knowing the overhead conditions, weather its going to swing or seam, he is a type of player who you can base your innings around and he is not far away from good form."
On his home country's chances in the Champions Trophy, Fleming said one of their top players would have to deliver in every game.
"They are just snapping at the heals of the top four and it is going to take performances from (Kane) Williamson (or) (Ross) Taylor and they can easily qualify into that semi-final and then it would be just two games." Asked to predict the two finalists, Fleming said it would be "England versus South Africa".
(With PTI Inputs)