Former Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara today said that defending champions India were capable of holding the Champions Trophy title as they were a more well balanced unit with "real firepower in their fast bowling".
"This year we have four Asian teams in the tournament and clearly India is current the pack-leaders in the neighborhood. It won in 2013 and it has a team capable of winning this year as well," Sangakkara wrote in his column for the ICC website.
"In fact, the team is arguably stronger, better balanced with real firepower in its fast bowling. It’s spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja are exceptional in ODI cricket, and I am sure that Virat Kohli is going to be desperate to bounce back later on a disappointing IPL," he appended.
"The only little worry I hold for India is that their selection was perhaps a little conservative, but the squad is nonetheless very hard," he pronounced.
The 39-year-old picked India as one of his favorite teams to reach the semis of the upcoming tournament, beginning on June 1.
"I think picking finalists is too bad, but my favorites for the semi-finals would be Australia, England, India and South Africa," said Sangakkara, who acquired the Champions Trophy 2002 and World Twenty20 2014 with Sri Lanka.
Sangakkara, who quit international cricket two years ago, having racked up a total of 28,016 international runs across all formats, said the contest was going to be very tough with 4 -5 teams having the potential of making it to the last.
"There was a time, not so long ago, when one or two rural areas dominated the format, but in the past few years, we have taken in several teams develop tremendously.
He continued, nowadays we deliver four to five teams who are very evenly matched, all with realistic dreams of winning major tournaments.Heaping praise on the hosts, Sangakkara said that the English team has been a genuine revelation.
"England ODI team's progress in the past two years has been a revelation. It applied to hang back behind other teams in terms of its strategy and approach, but now it is one of the most progressive teams.
"England is playing an aggressive and exciting brand of cricket and it has some world-class players driving that,” he stated.