After yesterdays game between Pakistan and Bangladesh the four semi-finalists have been decided but again the two games played today are possibly going to decide who will finish at the top of the table. India who is a point being Australia can only finish at the top if South Africa beat Australia in the second game of the day. For India though this game needs to be utilized to iron out their right combination for their semifinal game. The teams despite having a great run in the tournament are anything but settled and there is still confusion as to what is India’s best XI.
Shikhar Dhawan’s exit at the start of the tournament caused a flutter in the top order which meant India had to abandon their plan A. They had to then drop Kedar Jadhav who wasn’t giving them the necessary runs at number six which means the middle order is still unsettled. India played Dinesh Karthik in the game against Bangladesh but he hardly got to bat and now with this game being the final one before the semi-final, India will be trying to figure out what combination they would like to go with. India has Mayank Agarwal in the squad now which means KL Rahul can be pushed down to number four again. Something for the team management to try out. Ravindra Jadeja as the second spinner is another option India will be keen to try out as India looked inclined to play their three seamers. Lots of things to consider and look forward to for India in this game.
For Sri Lanka though, their hopes disappeared after their loss to South Africa last week. They did get a good win against West Indies though after that loss. The Sri Lankan camp would want to build on that win and look to end the tournament on a high by winning their last encounter. The biggest problem for Sri Lanka through the tournament has been their batting. They have struggled to put up good totals on the board which cost them most of the games. Their top order struggled for runs and the form of Angelo Mathews except for a fifty against England was patchy and did not help their cause. The game against West Indies should give the team great confidence their batters would like to repeat that performance against India.
Head to head:
India has historically dominated Sri Lanka in ODIs but in the World Cups, it has been much closer. Sri Lanka holds a slight lead of 4-3 against India in the marquee tournament.
Virat Kohli (India): The India skipper has been in great form in this tournament without being spectacular. He has scored 5 fifty plus scores without converting any of them into a big hundred. He would want to correct that before going into the semi-final. He does have 400+ runs in the tournament through which is not bad at all but again you would expect the Indian captain to get more three-figure scores. India needs the Virat to score big considering the issues India have been having with the middle order.
Mohammad Shami (India): Mohammad Shami has been brilliant in this tournament and has 14 wickets in just 4 games so far. While he has been amazing with the new ball and in the middle overs, he has struggled at the death except for the game against Afghanistan. He has been hit for lots of runs in the final overs and that is something he would like to correct. He will be India’s Trump card with the new ball though as Bumrah hasn’t been able to get wickets at the start.
Lasith Malinga (Sri Lanka): Lasith Malinga does not have a great record against India, but being the leader of an inexperienced bowling attack he would like to make a statement. It is imperative that Sri Lanka strike with the new ball and Malinga and Sri Lanka would know that. Malinga has been good for Sri Lanka in this tournament and has done well so far which will give Sri Lanka great confidence.
Avishka Fernando (Sri Lanka): Fernando who showed lots of promise for Sri Lanka through the tournament finally scored a good hundred against West Indies. An aggressive batter that hundred would have given the youngster great confidence. In a struggling batting line up, Sri Lanka will be hoping he does well again against a good Indian bowling attack.
What they said?
“I think that’s a big game for us. For all the four teams that qualify, it’s going to be a massive game. So that’s in the back of the mind. But having said that, I think we’re professional enough to go out there against Sri Lanka and play a very clinical game” Said Dinesh Karthik about the semifinal game against Sri Lanka
“We know they are really dangerous. Once they get set, they’re going for the big ones. So we have some plans, we’re trying to restrict them from those plans. And if we can execute really well, definitely we can get him [the batsman] out an early” Said Dimuth Karunaratne about the Indian batting
Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant, MS Dhoni, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar/Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah
Sri Lanka XI:
Dimuth Karunaratne, Kusal Perera, Avishka Fernando, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Lahiru Thirimanne, Isuru Udana, Dhananjaya de Silva, Jeffrey Vandersay, Kasun Rajitha, Lasith Malinga
This will be a tough game for Sri Lanka against a team who has dominated them in all forms of the game over the last couple of years. The India team is still trying to figure out their right XI and they might make a few changes to their XI keeping that in mind and Sri Lanka will like to take advantage of that confusion. The form and strength of the two teams though point to India and they would be starting as the overwhelming favorites in this game.