Champions Trophy gives India hope

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WITH Indian cricket reeling from a corruption scandal, the national team can provide some much-needed respite by winning the seventh and final edition of the Champions Trophy and confirming their status as the world’s best 50-over team.

The 18-day tournament featuring the world’s top eight countries starts today with India taking on South Africa in Cardiff.

India could well be the team to beat and they knocked over holders Australia for just 65 in a warm-up match on Tuesday. Skipper MS Dhoni said of his squad: “All of them have played good cricket in the IPL or before the IPL.”

India are in Group B with Pakistan, South Africa and the West Indies, who captured the World Twenty20 last year and won the Champions Trophy in 2004 when it was last held on English soil. The West Indies have Chris Gayle, the world’s most destructive limited-overs batsman, in their armoury.

Group A looks just as tight, with England drawn alongside Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka. England are the only competing team without a major 50-over title and Australia, who have won the past two Champions Trophies have a much weaker squad this time, so New Zealand look good in that group.