Rohit Sharma’s record fifth century at the World Cup sent India roaring into the semi-finals in high spirits, but their seven-wicket victory over Sri Lanka was as notable for events in the sky as those in the ground.
Rohit’s supreme form continued with 103 in 94 balls, a third straight hundred taking the opener top of the run-scoring charts with 647, but a packed crowd at Headingley were frequently distracted by overhead flights carrying political slogans.
A series of flyovers took place, with a small plane trailing banners carrying phrases including “Justice for Kashmir” and “India stop genocide”. The incident drew an angry response from the International Cricket Council, who had sought assurances from West Yorkshire Police following a similar episode during Pakistan’s clash with Afghanistan at the same venue.
A statement from the governing body said it was “incredibly disappointed” and “very dissatisfied”, but the ICC is understood to be content that no-fly zones around Old Trafford and Edgbaston will ensure no repeat during next week’s knockout matches.
The stunt drew eyes away from a game that did not quite qualify as a dead rubber, given India still went in with a chance of finishing first in the table, but with Sri Lanka eliminated it still lacked intensity.
They posted 264 for seven thanks to a battling 113 from Angelo Mathews, but it was never likely to be enough to challenge India, who saw KL Rahul follow Rohit’s lead with 111 before a late cameo from Virat Kohli.
Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne opted to bat first but was soon counting the cost of pitting himself against the excellent Jasprit Bumrah.
The seamer sent down a superb opening burst of two for 12 in four overs, Karunaratne nicking behind and Kusal Perera done on the inside edge, and later ended Mathews’ lengthy stay.
By the time Kusal Mendis was stumped off Ravindra Jadeja’s third ball and breakout star Avishka Fernando fell to Hardik Pandya for 20, they were in trouble at 55 for four.
And so began Mathews’ rearguard, adding 124 alongside Lahiru Thirimanne and 74 with Dhananjaya De Silva. It took the veteran 32 balls to hit his first boundary and there was a life on 61, dropped by Bhuveneshwar Kumar. That inspired him to hurry and he accelerated to his hundred with four fours and two sixes in his next 29 balls.
It was his just his third in ODIs despite passing 50 on 41 occasions.
Early wickets were a must if Sri Lanka were to repeat their shock defence of 232 against England but there was barely a false stroke against the new ball.
Rohit led the way as he and Rahul eased 59 from the powerplay overs and 50 from the next block of 10.
Sri Lanka’s seamers were tidy enough to control the scoring rate, but Dhananjaya De Silva’s mystery spin was swatted aside by Rohit and even Lasith Malinga’s appearance in the middle overs failed to change the tone.
A crushing 10-wicket win looked to be on the cards until Rohit fell softly, lobbing Kasun Rajitha’s slower ball to mid-off. Rahul departed with 21 needed, floored by Malinga’s bouncer while also getting some bat on it, but Kohli’s 34no finished things off with 39 balls remaining.
Provided by Press Association Sport
The World Cup final will be available to watch on free-to-air television if England make the showpiece, Sky Sports has announced.
The broadcaster said on Friday that if England reach the July 14 final at Lord’s – they are in semi-final action next week – it will “ensure as wide an audience as possible is able to watch the game”.
International cricket has been behind Sky’s subscription paywall since 2005, and calls have been increasing for at least some of it to return to free-to-air television.
Sky UK and Ireland chief executive Stephen Van Rooyen said: “We are proud to be the broadcaster for a home Cricket World Cup – one of the world’s biggest and most exciting sporting events.
“Our aim has always been to celebrate what could be a ‘once in a generation’ moment of a home team in a big final on home soil.
“So, if England reach the final, we will make the match available to everyone so the whole country can be part of a rare and special big sporting moment.”
It has not yet been revealed which free-to-air channel a final featuring England would be made available via.
England seamer Liam Plunkett suggested on Thursday that the team were keen to attract the biggest audience they could.
He told BBC Radio 5 Live: “You want as many people to watch it as possible. Playing for England you’re the pride of the country and you want people to be able to access that and watch that.
“It’s always nice to be on a bigger platform. We feel like we’ve built something special here as a team.
“It would be nice to go all the way and to have big numbers watching that final if we get through and win, that would be huge.”
The last game of Sri Lanka’s World Cup campaign started on a disastrous note with the 1996 champions reeling at 55-4 after just over 11 overs against India in Headingley on Saturday.
It was then that Angelo Mathews decided to step up and produce his team’s best batting performance of the tournament. The all-rounder steadied the ship and helped the Lankans post a respectable total of 264-7 in their quota of 50 overs.
Here we take a closer look at his performance.
Balls faced: 128
Sri Lanka endured a rather disappointing World Cup, with their only memorable moment arriving in a thrilling win over hosts England. They would have preferred to have started strong against neighbours India but Jasprit Bumrah had other ideas and he removed the openers early on.
Matthews played the role of a sheet anchor and took his team to safety through a well-paced ton. He thus became only the second Sri Lankan player to score a ton in this World Cup after Avishka Fernando.
The 34-year-old went after Bhuvneshwar Kumar and ensured his team got to a competitive total, as he recorded the highest score by a Sri Lankan player in this World Cup.
Good shot selection is a key ingredient in any innings and Mathews had his spot on. His timing and placement were impeccable as well on a slowing surface.
His used the pull shot judiciously, negating the slow short balls by Indian quicks. The 34-year-old was accumulating runs all around the ground and ensured Sri Lanka avoided a batting collapse.
No major negatives. But he did get out to a softly dismissal. Matthew timed Bumrah’s full length ball well but failed to place it perfectly. The ball found Rohit Sharma at extra-cover and the opening batsman had to barely move an inch to send the Sri Lankan back to the pavilion.
The in-form batsman could have added another 15 runs on the board, had he placed his shot better.
The Lankans had a tournament to forget and hence need to regroup. However, Matthews will find solace in the fact that he played a classy innings.