Sarfraz confident of Pakistan's Champions Trophy chances

India will not field the full strength squad against New Zealand with Yuvraj Singh and Rohit Sharma unavailable for the match.

'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'.

The original concept for the Champions Trophy, apart from wanting to raise funds for the ICC, was to hold a prestige 50-over tournament.

"This is my first major tournament as captain, I'm definitely very hopeful and excited about the competition. All players (are) giving their heart out in each and every department of the game and when we're together giving our best and keeping our focus, result will surely come good". "The effort should be there, people should see we are fighting and giving it our all", he added.

Hussey believes Ashes rivals England and Australia will square off in the ICC Champions Trophy final.

"Initially we played a good series in West Indies", said Sarfraz of his first success as captain.

"We are hopeful of playing well in this tournament and we want to win it".

Both Sri Lanka and an improving Bangladesh will be competitive but they won't win enough matches to qualify for the knockout stage. Whenever we have played them, Pakistan has been the bigger side, and in this sort of tournament any big side is under pressure. "It was a very tough series for us. So that's why I told the players just play your natural game".

He had played a couple of Vijay Hazare Trophy matches for Mumbai after recuperating from a hamstring surgery but that was also more than two and half months back.

For New Zealand, Mitchell McClenaghan, Tim Southee, and Trent Boult make up for a risky seam attack in any given condition with their abilities to take quick wickets in early overs, putting pressure on the middle order batsmen. India are already without Manish Pandey, who was ruled out of the tournament due to a side strain and was replaced by Dinesh Karthik.

"We have got to be realistic", said Nafees, architect of their only Champions Trophy win so far, against Zimbabwe in the 2006 preliminary round.

  • Carolyn Briggs