New Delhi: Abdul Qadir, the former Pakistan legspinner, has tipped India as finalists for the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy while stressing on the team's batting as giving them the upper hand in Saturday's match against Pakistan in Birmingham. India are the only team to so far qualify for the knockout stage - having failed to do so for the past three editions of the tournament - and Qadir said they were the favourites in what he termed "the final before the final".
"India are playing like a champion and I think they will play the final. Their strength lies in their batting. Despite the absence of Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir in their line up, they are scoring 300 plus runs," he told PTI-Bhasha. "They played brilliantly in first two matches. They also have two new match-winners in Shikhar Dhawan and Ravindra Jadeja. India enjoy upper hand but Pakistan is capable of springing surprises. They will give their best in this match and we must not forget that Pakistan has one of the best bowling combinations."
Pakistan's elimination from the tournament following defeats to West Indies and South Africa has left Saturday's fixture without any bearing on the tournament, but Qadir - who played 19 of his 104 ODIs against India - felt it would still be massive for the passionate fans of both teams.
"Whenever India and Pakistan play, there is always a different kind of feeling. People do not keep in mind the importance of the match, they only want to see their team winning it. It is final before actual final for cricket fans of both the countries," he said. "India will try to keep the winning momentum while Pakistan will do some extra effort for their fans as they don't want to lose this one after first two defeats."
Qadir, regarded as one of the finest exponents of leg spin in his time, also had words of admiration for India's bowling and singled out another bowler of his ilk. "India has improved a lot as far as bowling is concerned. They have good pace bowlers and every one knows about their spinners. If they include leggie Amit Mishra in the final eleven, it will be a perfect attack," he said.