India’s unbeaten march in the 2019 ICC World Cup continued on Thursday with the Men in Blue thrashing West Indies by 125 runs in Manchester.
A commanding bowling display from Virat Kohli’s men was at the heart of India’s fifth win in the tournament with the Windies bowled out for just 143 runs in their chase of a target of 269.
Half centuries from skipper Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni helped India post a total of 268-7 on a difficult surface before the bowlers turned the screws on the Caribbean side.
Mohammed Shami (4-16) gave India a roaring start with the ball with the early wickets of Chris Gayle and Shai Hope before India’s wrist-spinners got into the act.
Kuldeep Yadav accounted for Nicholas Pooran while Yuzvendra Chahal sent back Jason Holder as Windies slipped to 98-5.
It went from bad to worse for the Windies with Jasprit Bumrah striking twice in two balls and the writing on the wall was confirmed once Shami returned to end Shimron Hetmyer’s vigil in his second spell.
Earlier, India’s openers were looking solid after Kohli elected to bat first before Rohit Sharma fell to a contentious caught-behind decision off the bowling of Kemar Roach.
India recovered from that early blow with a 69-run circumspect stand between KL Rahul and Virat Kohli before the former was castled on 48 by a Jason Holder in-swinger.
India’s middle-order woes were exposed once again with both Vijay Shankar and Kedar Jadhav falling cheaply while Kohli continued to look solid at the other end.
The India skipper crafted a fluent half-century and was looking good for his first ton of the tournament before he pulled a Holder delivery straight into the hands of Darren Bravo.
That wicket left India reeling at 180-5 at around the 40-over mark and it took an excellent stand between Hardik Pandya and MS Dhoni to resurrect the innings.
Pandya perished for a quickfire 46 while Dhoni cracked his 72nd ODI fifty after landing some important blows in the final overs.
Bowling proving to be India’s biggest strength
While India’s formidable top-order before the injury to Shikhar Dhawan has been the envy of most ODI sides for some time now, it is their bowling attack which is proving to be the team’s biggest asset in the World Cup.
A total of 269 was just about par for the surface at Old Trafford but India’s formidable bowling unit made it look like a gigantic score with yet another complete display.
Jasprit Bumrah’s quality was never in doubt but it has been the performance of Shami which has been the biggest positive with the pacer more than filling the boots vacated by Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s injury.
Shami’s control with the new-ball was nothing short of stellar and it was then backed up by an excellent showing by India’s wrist-spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal.
With both the pace and spin attacks looking in top form, India will be confident of defending most totals in the World Cup.
The experienced pacer is only in the playing XI due to an injury to Bhuvneshwar but it will be hard to dislodge him from the side now following his latest showing.
Having captured a match-winning hat-trick against Afghanistan in the previous match, Shami was on target from ball one in an excellent new-ball spell which set the tone for the rest of the innings.
He gave Gayle no room to work with and then reaped the rewards while his delivery to dismiss an in-form Hope was exceptional. The 28-year-old has never looked as fit as he does at the moment and he is bowling with plenty of sharpness and intensity.
His partnership with Bumrah is turning into a lethal one and India will be wary of changing it for the remainder of the tournament.
Kohli becomes fastest to 20,000 international runs
The India skipper missed out on a ton but he continued his good form by registering his fourth consecutive half-century. During the course of his 72-run knock, Kohli went past 20,000 runs across all three formats of international cricket.
He is now the fastest batsman in history to do so by taking just 417 innings combined to breach the milestone. The record was previously held jointly by Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara who attained the feat in 453 innings.
Mt. 20k scaled! @imVkohli becomes the quickest batsman to make 20,000 international runs. He is the third Indian after @sachin_rt and Rahul Dravid to achieve this feat.😎👏🏾 #TeamIndia #CWC19 #KingKohli pic.twitter.com/s8mn9sgaap— BCCI (@BCCI) June 27, 2019
Sri Lanka are wary of a South African side who have nothing to lose in their final matches at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup, according to their coach Chandika Hathurusingha.
South Africa have lost five of their seven matches in the group stage and are ninth on the table and are out of contention of making the semi-finals, while Sri Lanka lie seventh.
Victory for Sri Lanka in all three of their remaining matches will see them in with a strong chance of making the final four, but Hathurusinga knows that they have to overcome a wounded South Africa to keep their campaign alive.
“When you have no pressure of qualifying, you can play fearless cricket. At the same time, you could turn up and just want to go home,” Hathurusingha said.
Recently, Sri Lanka have known a South African side that has looked more like the former. In March, South Africa beat Sri Lanka 5-0 in an ODI series at home, and leg spinner Imran Tahir was the highest wicket-taker.
While Hathurusingha acknowledged Tahir’s dominance, he also pointed to the players who missed that series but are at the World Cup as being among those who could be the difference in Friday’s match.
“Our guys play spin okay. Tahir is a world-class performer. I am looking at some of the players who were not in South Africa like Angelo Mathews and Kusal Perera and Dimith Karunaratne. They are in form.”
Mathews and Perera both suffered from hamstring injuries in the South Africa series while Karunaratne had not been selected.
Currently, Karunaratne is Sri Lanka’s top run-scorer at the tournament with 180 runs from four innings while Mathews is coming off a stunning 85 not out from 115 balls in Sri Lanka’s win over England. Mathews, in particular, earned the coach’s praise for his heroics in taking the home side down. “Mathews showed a lot of mental resilience in that innings. He was under pressure, the team was under pressure and he showed a lot of character,” Hathurusingha said.
Mathews was also involved in 71-run stand with Kusa Mendis and 57-run partnership with Dhananjaya de Silva, which was crucial to ensuring Sri Lanka posted a competitive total.
They reached 232/9 and bowled England out for 212 which Hathurusingha said spoke to Sri Lanka’s bowling talent.
He added: “De Silva wasn’t batting as well as we know he can but still had a very good partnership with Mathews. It is key for us to put partnerships together.
“Although we didn’t play our best cricket to win the game in terms of batting, we had a perfect bowling display in terms of defending. I think we have enough talent and skills to compete with South Africa tomorrow.”
And to get themselves ready to take on South Africa, Sri Lanka have focused on improving their boundary-hitting as they look to clear the ropes at the Riverside Ground.
“We have been practicing power-hitting a lot. The good thing is the top-order has produced. We had two good partnerships in the last game. We know what Isuru Udana and Thisara Perera can produce,” Hathurusingha said.
David Warner has been at the receiving end of some vociferous boos from the crowds at the 2019 ICC World Cup but the Australian batsman has claimed that they only serve to perform even better.
Both Warner and his team-mate Steve Smith have been greeted by a chorus of boos in almost every game they have played in England since their return from a one-year suspension from international cricket.
Both players were punished for their roles in the infamous ball-tampering saga in South Africa and the crowds in England have wasted no opportunity to remind them of the dark chapter in Australia’s cricket history.
Warner, however, is not really bothered by the behaviour of the fans and is focusing on racking up the runs for Australia.
“People have the right to come in here, they pay their dollars and if they want to boo us, they can,” the left-hander stated after Australia’s win over arch-rivals England.
“I thrive on that stuff, I love it. At the end of the day you have to smile – they pay their money to come and watch us and we are grateful for them to come and sit down and watch us.
“We try and put on a good show for everyone. I always just smile. I take my glasses off and look everyone in the eye and just smile.That is what is about, I am living the dream, I am out here at Lord’s, playing cricket for my country.”
The southpaw has been in inspired form for Australia in the ongoing World Cup is currently leading the run-scoring charts with 500 runs from just seven games at an average of nearly 84.
With plenty of matches still remaining for Australia who have qualified for the semi-final, Warner is on course to break Sachin Tendulkar’s all-time World Cup record of 673 runs in the 2003 edition.
Warner and Australia will next be in action on Saturday when they take on their Trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand at the Lord’s Cricket Ground.