India are set to play their fourth One Day International in 10 days as they take on Sri Lanka in their last league game of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 with their semi-final spot already confirmed. With Sri Lanka already out of the semi-finals race, there is a bilateral series feel around this penultimate league game of the ongoing mega tournament.
Even though there is not much at stake, India will look forward to put up a clinical performance yet again after their Edgbaston stutter against England and to get to the top of the points table which would decide which opponent will face India in the semi-finals. But here is a catch – count Sri Lanka out at your own risk.
Not long ago, it was this Dimuth Karunaratne led side which had awakened the World Cup from a slumber of sorts with their miraculous win against tournament favourites England. It was Angelo Mathews’ first ball in eighteen months that added a twist in the tale in a dead rubber against the West Indies. And the wounds of Champions Trophy 2017, when Sri Lanka chased down 322 against India would be fresh in the minds of players and they would not want to tone down the intensity of their game.
The game against India could very well be veteran pacer Lasith Malinga’s last match in the World Cup Cricket. He has bowled with a lot of heart in this tournament and has displayed the variety of weapons he can use while bowling- spinning yorkers, bouncers, slower ones, cutters and what not.
It would be a fairy tale ending if Malinga produces another brilliant spell to end his World Cup career on a high and help his side finish their campaign with a win.
Malinga will leave the World Cup stage as the third most successful wicket-taker in the history of the tournament.
As far as India are concerned, this is yet another chance for the Indian middle order to tune up their performance. Kedar Jadhav was dropped from the side in the previous match having had an ordinary tournament till then. Neither has his strike rate been impressive at the backend of the innings nor has he been required to bowl his overs.
Most probably, Dinesh Karthik will get another chance in this XI and so will Rishabh Pant who got a couple of starts in the last two games.
Avishka Fernando for Sri Lanka and KL Rahul for India will be in the spotlight. Both these players were not part of their respective Playing XI plans until recently but have shown their class and consistency. Rahul will be hoping to convert his starts into big innings and ease off the pressure on Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.
The teams meet at the Headingley Carnegie. Live action starts from 3 pm (IST) onwards.
Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Avishka Fernando, Suranga Lakmal, Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, Jeevan Mendis, Kusal Mendis (wk), Kusal Perera (wk), Thisara Perera, Dhananjaya de Silva, Milinda Siriwardana, Lahiru Thirimanne, Isuru Udana, Jeffrey Vandersay, Kasun Ranjitha
India: Virat Kohli (c), Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, MS Dhoni (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant (wk), KL Rahul, Mohammed Shami, Mayank Agarwal, Rohit Sharma, Kuldeep Yadav