Rohit Sharma scored his 6th World Cup hundred. (AP Photo)
India ended the round-robin stage of the ICC World Cup 2019 with seven wins from nine games as they bulldozed past Sri Lanka by seven wickets in Leeds on Saturday (July 6). Rohit Sharma smashed a record ton while KL Rahul too notched his ton as India eased past the 264 for 7 set by Sri Lanka with 39 balls to spare. Virat Kohli and his men now await the result of the Australia-South Africa clash to know their opponents for the semifinal clash.
Rohit not only became the first player to score five centuries in a single World Cup, but also equalled Sachin Tendulkar’s record of six World Cup tons – the most by any player. In the end, it was all too easy for India but they still walk away with a few worry lines ahead of the semifinal clash. Rahul’s runs come as a major shot in the arm but Kuldeep Yadav’s form and Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s rhythm will continue to trouble the think-tank as they continue their search for the best combination.
Ahead of the game, only one 250-plus successful chase had been recorded in this World Cup. From India’s perspective, they needed a win chasing having chased just twice in the first eight games, and especially after the loss against England. It was a typical Rohit innings – full of class, elegance and panache. What was different was the aggressive intent and absolute disregard for the challenges being thrown at him. India got off to a quick start with the 50 being raised inside seven overs.
Rohit got to his half-century off 48 deliveries with a six against Dhananjaya de Silva. Rahul joined him to the landmark soon after in the 23rd over off 67 deliveries. By then India were already bossing the game and were at 152 for no loss at the halfway mark. The moment of the game came in the 29th over when Rohit smashed Kasun Rajitha for a boundary to record his ton off 92 balls. The same bowler dismissed Rohit an over later – chipped to mid-off – as he fell 26 short of breaking Tendulkar’s record of most runs in a World Cup edition. Fortunately, he still has at least one more game to break the record. Rahul got to his maiden World Cup ton in the 39th over off 109 balls as India continued to motor towards the target. There wasn’t much for Sri Lanka from there on as Kohli walked in and drove the chase forward.
Earlier in the day, Sri Lanka got to a decent score because of Angelo Mathews’s fighting ton that gave the bowlers something to work with, after they found themselves reeling at 55 for 4. Bhuvneshwar started poorly but Jasprit Bumrah’s exceptional opening burst helped India get a good start. Both openers fell to Bumrah while Jadeja had Kusal Mendis stumped. Things went from bad to worse when Avishka Fernando was caught behind trying to lap a short ball from Hardik Pandya.
Lahiru Thirimanne (53) and Mathews (113) then dug in and scored 124 in the next 26.1 overs to revive the side and set the platform for a late assault. Kuldeep gave his figures a boost with the wicket of the former and ended with 1 for 58. Bhuvneshwar dismissed Thisara Perera in the last over but not before he had leaked 73 from his ten. Sri Lanka struggled for a big finish as they struck only four boundaries in the last ten. Only 31 runs were scored in the last five overs as Dhananjaya de Silva kept struggling for momentum. He remained unbeaten on 29 off 36 and had just one boundary to his name. Bumrah continued to be the pillar of India’s attack as he bagged 3 for 37.
Brief scores: Sri Lanka 264/7 in 50 overs (Angelo Mathews 113; Jasprit Bumrah 3-37)lost to India 265/3 in 43.3 overs (KL Rahul 111, Rohit Sharma 103) by seven wickets.