Openers Score Tons as India Cruise to 7-Wicket Win Over Sri Lanka
They’d already qualified for the playoffs, yet the Indians gave it their all as they registered a 7-wicket victory over Sri Lanka at Headingley on Saturday, 6 July.
After restricting the Sri Lankans to 264/7 in their 50 overs, India comfortably reached their target in 43.3 overs, courtesy centuries by openers Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul and finished their league stage with 7 wins in 9 games.
Both the openers got India off to a flyer, stitching a 189-run opening stand before Rohit Sharma fell to Rajitha for 103 (off 94 balls) in the 31st over. During his knock, Rohit became the first cricketer to score five centuries in a World Cup. He also became only the second Indian after Sachin Tendulkar to score 600 runs in a single edition of the quadrennial tournament.
Rohit's artistry was at a different level as he bled the Sri Lankan bowling, especially Lasith Malinga (1/82 in 10 overs) with thousand cuts. When he finally got out, he was only 26 runs short of Sachin Tendulkar's highest aggregate (673 runs in 2003 edition) of runs which is up for grabs in the semi-final.
Soon after, KL Rahul went down for 111, having scored only his second ODI century and first in the ICC World Cup.
Rishabh Pant was dismissed for 4 but captain Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya got India across the line with 7 wickets in hand and 39 balls remaining.
Earlier, Angelo Mathews’ gutsy hundred after a top-order collapse guided Sri Lanka to a respectable 264 for 7 in their final World Cup group league encounter.
The former Sri Lanka captain (113 off 128 balls) played a near perfect knock with his back to the wall, to give his team a chance to fight which looked bleak after first hour.
Jasprit Bumrah (3/37 in 10 overs) was fast, accurate and mostly unplayable but Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1/73 in 10 overs) had a forgettable day.
Mathews, who has now scored all his three ODI hundreds against India (Mohali and Ranchi earlier), hit 10 fours and two sixes in his final knock of this competition.
Mathews came in at 53 for 3 and it soon became 55 for 4 when Lahiru Thirimanne (53 off 68 balls) joined him.
The duo added 124 runs for the fifth wicket to bail the team out of the woods. He then had a 74-run stand for the sixth wicket with Dhananjaya de Silva (29 off 36 balls) that helped Sri Lanka get past the 250-run mark.
The 32-year-old Mathews' knock was a treat to watch as it was a perfect example of how to build an innings after a top-order collapse.
Ravindra Jadeja (1/40 in 10 overs) was given respect and only twice he chanced his arms for two maximums.
Kuldeep Yadav (1/58 off 10 overs), after being dropped against Bangladesh, did not show much improvement as he was bowling too full which both Thirimanne and Mathews found easy to negotiate.
Kuldeep, at the fag end of his spell, did get Thirimanne, who tried to hit the left-arm wrist spinner against the spin.
With Mohammed Shami rested, India played with two seamers. While Bhuvneshwar was picked for special treatment by Mathews and Thirimanne, it was Bumrah, who had given his team initial momentum with two dismissals.
Bumrah dismissed Dimuth Karunaratne (10) with an angular delivery that was fuller than what the Sri Lankan skipper thought. He tried to play a cut shot but could only manage to edge it to Dhoni behind stumps.
The dangerous Kusal Perera (18) hit three boundaries before Dhoni pouched another one off Bumrah to send him back.
Jadeja, playing his first game of the tournament, then earned dividends from Dhoni's flash reflexes as Kusal Mendis came down the track and missed the flight to find the bails whipped.
Pandya, who has had a decent tournament as a bowler, then removed the in-form Avishka Fernando (20), who looked promising during his brief stay.