India defeated a low lying Sri Lanka by 7 wickets to confirm their spot at the numero uno position in the points table. The Dimuth Karunaratne led team posted a total of 264/7 runs at the end of 50 overs courtesy Angelo Mathews brilliant 113 off 128 balls to take his team to a fighting total. Jasprit Bumrah was the star for India in the bowling department with three wickets.
Lot was expected from Lasith Malinga in his farewell world cup game for the Islanders but he failed to make a mark as Indian openers looked in the sublime touch right from the word “go”. They added 189 runs for the first wicket to consolidate take India in a dominant position. Both KL Rahul(111 off 118 balls) and Rohit Sharma(103 off 94 balls) struck a century followed by an unbeaten 34 by Virat Kohli to give India a 7 wickets victory and finish the league stage with 16 points in 9 games that includes a rain washed game against New Zealand.
On the other hand, Australia lost a high scoring thriller against a low lying South Africa by 10 runs to finish at number two spot in the points table. South Africa posted a total of 325/6 courtesy Faf Du Plessis 100 off 94 balls and Rassie van der Dussen’s 95 off 97 balls.
In reply, Australian openers failed to fire and the untested middle order failed to perform that became the reason for their demise. Wicket-keeper batsman Alex Carey and lower order batsman showed some intent but it was not enough to win the game for the Australian team. Kagiso Rabada was the highlight in the bowling department as he scalped three crucial wickets.
After the conclusion of league stage, we have our four semi-finalists- India(1), Australia(2), England(3) and New Zealand(4). Virat Kohli’s side will face a depleted New Zealand in the first semi final on 9th July at Manchester while an in form England will clash against their Ashes rivals Australia in the second semi-final on 11th July at Birmingham.
Michael Clarke predicts the winner
India is currently up against a low lying New Zealand in the first semi-final at Manchester’s Old Trafford stadium. New Zealand were struggling at 211/5 after 46.1 before rain spoiled the play. India will look to contain the Kiwi batsman and chase down the score to book their place into the finals, while New Zealand will look to add 30-40 runs more and hope that their pace trio of Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson and Matt Henry destroys the Indian batting line-up to book their place in second consecutive finals.
Meanwhile, former Australian captain Michael Clarke has opined that India are the firm favourites to win the cup. “No-brainer for me, India is in the final. In cricket, you should never say that, if I was an Indian player I wouldn’t be thinking like that or if I was Virat Kohli I wouldn’t be thinking like that.
“But from outside, India is on fire they are playing unbelievable cricket at the moment and in my opinion, they already have one foot in the final,” he told India Today.
He further said that New Zealand are low in confidence after getting hammered by Pakistan, Australia and England in their last three league stage games. They finished with 11 points in 9 games after the conclusion of league stage despite being on the top position in the initial stages of the tournament.