Rohit Sharma will only consider his World Cup a success if he lifts the trophy at Lord’s, despite etching his name in the history books as the first man to hit five hundreds at a tournament.
The graceful 32-year-old arrived at Headingley level with Sri Lankan great Kumar Sangakkara, who scored four in a row at the 2015 edition, and stroked his way to a superb 103.
Rohit’s runs, allied to 111 from the bat of opening partner KL Rahul, set his side up for a seven-wicket win and followed earlier tons against South Africa, Pakistan, England and Bangladesh to leave him top of the scoring charts with 647.
As dominant as he has been individually, there is only one goal occupying his mind.
“We are here for a mission and that mission is not yet completed,” he said.
“I’m not here for records, I’m here to play cricket. I’m here to score runs and lift the cup. We have to wait four years for this and the job is to go and win the semi and the final. As long as that is not complete you don’t feel satisfied.
“Winning is important, no matter how many runs you score or how many wickets you take.”
India did not know who they would be facing in the final four as they began their celebrations, with Australia’s result against South Africa ultimately settling the match-ups.
Captain Virat Kohli instead chose to focus on the performances within his own dressing room, reflecting happily on a record of seven wins and just one defeat in the group stage.
“England or New Zealand next? The opposition has never mattered,” he said.
“We don’t focus on what they bring to the table. If we play well we can beat anyone, if we don’t play well anyone can beat us. Regardless of who we play we want to get the result our way.
“We wanted to play good cricket but we didn’t expect to do this well heading into the semis. That’s what hard work gets you. I am really proud of this team.”
Kohli’s opposite number Dimuth Karunaratne will soon set about the job of lifting his own team after a disappointing sixth-placed finish, but used his final appearance of the tournament to nominate India as the team to beat in the knockouts.
Sri Lanka were thrashed by the Black Caps and Australia but upset hosts England in the biggest surprise of the event.
“I think India has a good balance to their team: nice spinners, good fast bowlers and their top order keeps scoring hundreds,” he said.
“India has the better chance to win the World Cup from my point of view, but any team on a particular day who can do better than them is definitely going to win it.”
Karunaratne also paid tribute to veteran seamer Lasith Malinga, playing his final World Cup game. He is the third highest wicket-taker in the competition’s history, the only man to take two hat-tricks as well as four in four balls.
“Sri Lanka cricket will miss him. He has done a lot of things for Sri Lanka,” said the skipper. “We will miss him but everyone has to end their chapter. Now is his time. We have to find a new guy who can get wickets.”
Australia will face England in a blockbuster World Cup semi-final showdown as the defending champions finished second in the group after an agonising loss to South Africa.
India’s win over Sri Lanka meant Australia were leapfrogged in the standings, shortly after Faf Du Plessis’ 93-ball century and Rassie Van Der Dussen’s one-day international best of 95 had propelled the Proteas to 325-6.
Despite David Warner’s 122, a defiant innings as he and Steve Smith faced South Africa for the first time since the ball-tampering scandal, Australia lost by just 10 runs as they were all out for 315 after 49.5 overs.
At 119 for four a heavy defeat loomed, but Warner’s sensational ton and Alex Carey’s 85 from 69 balls helped to bring the equation down to 11 from the final two balls at Old Trafford, only for Nathan Lyon to hole out.
That confirmed India as group winners and they will take on New Zealand while Australia are up against the tournament hosts with fitness doubts over Usman Khawaja and Marcus Stoinis.
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