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India vs Sri Lanka | Dead Rubber Did You Say? Not a Chance

Karthik Lakshmanan |July 6, 2019, 1:10 AM IST
India vs Sri Lanka | Dead Rubber Did You Say? Not a Chance

Leeds: India have sealed their qualification for the semifinal of the World Cup 2019 with a game to go in the league stage. They have Sri Lanka up next - a team that has been knocked out already - in Leeds on Saturday (July 6). Despite India's guaranteed entry to the last four, there's still a lot to play for. Here are the various things to look forward to in India's last game.

Not a dead rubber

India are currently on 13 points, only one point behind top-placed Australia. Both India and Australia play on Saturday, with Australia playing the afternoon game and India the morning. A win for India could take them to the top spot in the table if Australia lose to South Africa. If India lose, they will play the winner of Wednesday's clash between England and New Zealand.

Rest Jasprit Bumrah?

Mohammed Shami got a break because he wasn't picked for India's first four games. Bhuvneshwar Kumar got a forced break for three games after injuring his hamstring against Pakistan. The only pacer who has played every game is Jasprit Bumrah. He's also perhaps the biggest reason India have qualified with a game to go, having picked up 14 wickets from seven matches with an economy of 4.61.

For a brief while during India's game against Bangladesh, the entire country would have held their breath seeing Bumrah walking off the field diving in the boundary. He clutched his shoulders for a moment before walking out with physio Patrick Farhart. However, there was nothing serious as he returned to finish Bangladesh's tail and hopes for a semifinal qualification.

It won't be a bad idea to give Bumrah a break, given he has been playing a lot of cricket in recent times. But does he want rest?

"This is my first World Cup, so I want to play as many games as possible. I don't think I've become an experienced player that I could say I don't want to play some games. Yeah, I always look forward to playing, and the more number of matches you play, you enjoy more," he said after the Bangladesh game.

So there goes.

India's Mohammad Shami appeals for a wickets against Bangladesh. (Pic: AP) India's Mohammad Shami appeals for a wickets against Bangladesh. (Pic: AP)

Shami's death bowling

Shami has stormed into the Indian side after Bhuvneshwar's injury, picking up 14 wickets from just four games. It includes a hat-trick against Afghanistan, a four-wicket haul against West Indies and a five-fer against England.

However, there is an area of concern as Shami has leaked runs in the death in the last two matches. Against England, his last three overs cost 44 runs as Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes smashed him around. Against Bangladesh, Shami conceded 35 runs in his last two overs with Sabbir Rahman and Saifuddin tearing him apart. He has one match to work on that aspect of the game, before India head to the semifinal.

Play five bowlers again, or give Ravindra Jadeja a game?

Virat Kohli was happy with Hardik Pandya's evolution as a 10-over bowler, which he said gave flexibility to the team. It enabled India to drop Kedar Jadhav for Dinesh Karthik, adding more firepower to the lower order. However, Kohli added that such decisions are completely based on conditions. The dimensions of the Edgbaston ground made India go with three frontline pacers, but that could change depending on what Leeds has in store.

India could perhaps give Ravindra Jadeja a go at Leeds, just to give him game-time before the knockouts. Jadeja is the only player from the squad - apart from Mayank Agarwal who will join the side in Leeds - to not play a game yet this World Cup. He has been actively involved though, called upon frequently as substitute fielder and taking some brilliant catches. Where and how India fit him, if they decide to, will be interesting to see.

Don't take Sri Lanka lightly

Two years back, India and Sri Lanka met at the Champions Trophy with India coming in on a high and Sri Lanka struggling to win. Kohli's men were favourites, Sri Lanka were so low that it was hard to even call them underdogs. And then, Sri Lanka stunned India. A century from Shikhar Dhawan helped India post 321 but Sri Lanka won with eight balls to spare, with contributions from the entire batting line up. A young upcoming batsman Kusal Mendis was the Man of the Match for his 89.

Sri Lanka have a young and upcoming batsman now too, in the form of Avishka Fernando. He has just scored a century in the previous match against West Indies, and another one against India will do Sri Lankan cricket a world of good even though it won't change their World Cup fate.

And oh, it is Lasith Malinga's last World Cup match, and who knows, maybe last international game too. He too will be looking to do what he does best, one last time.

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Cricket World Cup Points Table

9 7 1 1 15 +0.80
9 7 2 0 14 +0.86
9 6 3 0 12 +1.15
9 5 3 1 11 +0.17
9 5 3 1 11 -0.43
9 3 4 2 8 -0.91
9 3 5 1 7 -0.03
9 3 5 1 7 -0.41
9 2 6 1 5 -0.22
9 0 9 0 0 -1.32

Team Rankings

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 3631 113
2 New Zealand 2547 111
3 South Africa 2917 108
4 England 3663 105
5 Australia 2640 98
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6420 123
2 India 6807 122
3 New Zealand 4763 113
4 Australia 5470 112
5 South Africa 5193 110
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 7365 283
2 England 4253 266
3 South Africa 4196 262
4 Australia 5471 261
5 India 7273 260
see more