India have won against Sri Lanka comfortably to go to the top of the points table. Though their stay could be shortlived if Australia manages to chase down 326 against South Africa in Manchester. If the defending champions fail to do so, India will face New Zealand in the first semi-final at the Old Trafford. Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul were the heroes for India in the chase while Angelo Mathews shined with the bat for Sri Lanka scoring a spectacular ton.
At the halfway stage, Sri Lanka’s score looked challenging. But the way India’s opening duo batted literally made it a cakewalk for the Men in Blue in the end. They were never in trouble during the mammoth 189-run stand. While Rohit got to his ton first, KL Rahul raised his bat later with his skipper Virat Kohli in the middle. However, both the batsmen were dismissed soon after getting to their respective milestones.
Rishabh Pant also scored only four runs while Kohli and Hardik Pandya finished the match with more than six overs and seven wickets in hand.
Sri Lanka post 264 courtesy Mathews
Earlier, Sri Lanka posted a more than a decent total of 264/7 on the board after 50 overs. They were struggling at 55/4 at one stage but then Angelo Mathews and Lahiru Thirimanne rebuilt the innings. The duo added 124 runs for the fifth wicket and took calculative risks in the middle overs while upping the ante. While Mathews went on to savour a superb century, his left-handed partner scored 53 runs.
India were brilliant in the death overs with Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar not giving an inch to the opposition batsmen. Sri Lanka could score only 64 runs in the last 10 overs and that too because of Mathews who eventually got out on 113. Though the score of 264 runs looked decent enough as the pitch was slowing down. Bumrah returned with the figures of 3/37 while the rest of the bowlers picked up a wicket each.
Man of the Match, Rohit Sharma said:
(Did he think about scoring five WC hundreds?) Not really. Like I have been talking about, going out there and do my job. Not thinking about all these kind of milestones. I know if I play well all these things will happen along the way.
My job is to keep my head straight and get my team to the finishing line. The shot selection becomes important once I am in. I try and calculate how I want to go forward based on that. There has to be some discipline in your batting and I have learned that from my past.
What has happened has happened, every day is a new day in cricket. I come out thinking I have not played any ODIs or scored any hundreds. That is the challenge as a sportsperson.
(Malinga) He has been a champion bowler for Sri Lanka and then for Mumbai Indians. He has shown it over the years how the teams rely on him. I have seen him in close quarters and the cricket world will miss him.
(Whom to play in semis?) As a team we are not thinking about that. We have had a great victory today and we want to celebrate that.
India skipper, Virat Kohli said:
We wanted to play good cricket. To be honest, we didn’t expect this kind of scoreline heading into the semis. But that’s what consistent performances and hard work get you. Really proud and happy of our team. Most amazing team to be a part of.
It is a really honor to play for India. More or less everything is set. But we don’t want to be one dimensional, I think the team that is more flexible on the day has more chances of executing what they want to. Obviously the dimensions and the pitches we play on will matter a lot, so we need a good balance in the side and whatever combination provides us the balance we will go ahead with that and really feel confident if we are batting first or bowling first we are covered with all dimensions.
From that point of view we are happy with where we are placed. It is just about turning up on the semifinal day and putting up a performance.
The opposition has never mattered. We don’t focus on what the opposition brings to the table. If we don’t play well anyone can beat us and if we play well we can beat anyone. The focus has to be within and we are confidence of our skill sets.
We just want to go out there in the semifinal and express our skills and strengths as a team. So regardless of who we will play, we want to play good cricket and get the result our way.
Sri Lanka skipper Dimuth Karunaratne said:
I think from 55/4 we had a good partnership between Angelo and Thirimanne, I felt it was a good score. In the first few overs we have batted well but kept losing wickets after that. We had to rebuild the innings and they did that.
Rohit and Rahul batted really well. We have to go, sit back and see what went wrong. We have to speak to the selectors and find some new talent. Sri Lankan cricket will miss him (Malinga). He has been a wonderful bowler and the man behind the World Cups. Everyone has to end their circle of chapter but it is a chance for the new guys to put their hands up.
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