Thursday, June 20, 2024

India first team to qualify for World Cup semifinals after crushing Sri Lanka by 302 runs

ICC Men's Cricket World Cup India 2023
Mohammed Shami of India celebrates the wicket of Kasun Rajitha of Sri Lanka to become India's all time leading wicket taker in World Cup cricket during the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup India 2023 between India and Sri Lanka at Wankhede Stadium on November 02, 2023 in Mumbai, India. (Photo by Surjeet Yadav/Getty Images)

Mumbai, November 2: Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj intimidated and scarred an under-prepared Sri Lanka with a fast bowling exhibition for the ages as India demolished the islanders by a record 302 runs to enter the World Cup semifinals here on Thursday.
On a Wankhede track that looked placid, India piled on a mammoth 357 for 8 in 50 overs.
Sri Lanka crumbled under lights for a paltry 55 in 19.4 overs to ensure an eighth semi-final appearance for India at the global event. This was India’s biggest victory by margin of runs in the 48-year history of the tournament.
With 14 points from seven games, Rohit Sharma’s army will like to finish with an all-win record as they now face South Africa in Kolkata on November 5 and the Netherlands in Bengaluru on November 12.
Shami (5/18 in 5 overs) took his second five-wicket haul in this edition and with 45 scalps, became India’s highest wicket-taker in World Cup history. Siraj (3/16 in 7 overs) was equally incisive and Jasprit Bumrah (1/8 in 5 overs) formidable as ever in a picture-perfect bowling performance.
As the Indian juggernaut rolls on, every performance seems like a dream played on a loop.
Exactly 45 days ago, Siraj had dismantled the Sri Lankans for 50 in the Asia Cup final and it seemed that the effect of that game has stayed in the minds of the Lankans, who became the second team after Bangladesh to get eliminated from the 10-team event.
It was fascinating to see how the same 22 yards looked so different when the two teams batted.
While Virat Kohli (88 off 94 balls) missed out on a world record-equalling 49th ODI hundred with the maestro Sachin Tendulkar himself in attendance, batting seemed like the easiest job on the planet.
Shubman Gill (92 off 92 balls) and Shreyas Iyer (82 off 56 balls) pulverised the opposition even as they missed out on personal landmarks.
But the capacity Wankhede crowd wouldn’t have believed what came in next.
On that placid track, the ball started jagging around as Siraj and Shami didn’t give any Lankan batters any respite during the 19 odd overs that they bowled.
If Siraj came wide off the crease and delivered unplayable in-cutters, Shami bowled from close to the stumps and got the ball to move away enough that either it kissed the outside edge of the bat or there was loud thwack of the stumps.
Hitting the right areas is an oft-repeated statement but doing it day in and day out and getting those wrists into the business with perfect seam position creating doubts in batters’ minds, Shami has etched his name in the history books.
On Thursday, Shami and Siraj showed quality of pitch doesn’t matter, quality of players do.
Batters make merry ============ Kohli enjoyed a 189-run second wicket stand with his heir apparent Gill, who looked a million dollars during his run-a-ball 92.
After a mini-slump, it was Iyer, who feasted against a mediocre bowling attack on a placid track, to get some form back before the match against South Africa at Eden Gardens, which will be played on a spicier track.
Starting briskly with a flurry of sixes, Iyer’s innings was instrumental in taking India past 350 after they lost both Gill and Kohli in quick succession. His innings featured six sixes and three fours.
Dilshan Madushanka (5/80 in 10 overs), who bowled a peach of a delivery to get skipper Rohit Sharma (4) first up, also denied all three Indian batters what would have been deserving hundreds.
He used the slower cutters and bouncers to good effect during his second and third spells.
Kohli and Gill weathered the storm adequately well to get through the initial overs and piled up a mountain of runs to put India on top.
In the sixth over, Dushmantha Chameera almost had Kohli’s wicket but could not hold on to a return catch on his follow-through which saw the ball popping out.
Beginning with a risk-free approach, Kohli and Gill stitched India’s highest-ever partnership in this World Cup for any wicket, putting on 189 runs from just 179 balls for the second wicket.
Kohli looked primed to equal the legendary Tendulkar’s tally of most ODI centuries but met with a soft end, lobbing a straight catch to cover after a masterful 88 from 94 balls which included 11 fours.
The ball stopped on him as he was committed on the drive but it hit the upper part of the blade to balloon up.
Gill started slowly but produced a compelling knock that brought him close to his first century of the tournament.
His first runs came off the ninth ball that he faced, but there was no stopping the fluent batter once he pulled Madushanka with command for a four to mid-wicket and followed up with a fabulous backfoot punch on the next delivery. (PTI)