Rohit-Rahul duo drives India to victory
The last time India and Sri Lanka had met at the ICC Cricket World Cup, the Men in Blue had gone home with the most prized trophy in the cricketing world. While that memory is a tough one to beat, the clash between the two teams in Leeds turned out to be a memorable occasion.
Rohit Sharma became the first player to score five centuries in a single edition of the World Cup. The Hitman now has six World Cup hundreds, the joint-highest with Sachin Tendulkar – another cricketer grown and groomed in Mumbai. Another reason to remember the game was that it marked Lasith Malinga’s last game at the mega tournament, departing as the active player with the highest number of wickets at the ICC event.
Sri Lanka won the toss and elected to bat first. With Mohammed Shami being rested, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah were India’s specialist pacers with the new ball. Bumrah was impressive from his first ball to the last, as he finished with figures of 10-2-37-3. Ravindra Jadeja, who was making his CWC ‘19 debut, was effective with the ball as he got the wicket of Kusal Mendis in his very first over.
While the Indian bowlers led to a downfall of the Lankan top and middle-order, the experience of Angelo Mathews and Lahiru Thirimanne came good. While the latter scored a handy fifty, Mathews went on to three digits. The partnership between the two steered the Lankan ship to safety as they put up 264 runs on the board in 50 overs.
The two Indian openers needed no second invitation as they took charge right from the start of the innings. The cricket they played was sensible and full of intent as they brought up their second consecutive 100-run stand. In attendance at Headingley was Rohit’s daughter who, like the crowd and all of India, devoured the Hitman’s fifth CWC ’19 ton. In the process, he hit 14 fours and two sixes as he led India’s run-chase in fine fashion.
Not far behind was partner KL Rahul who, too, touched the three-figure mark, his first World Cup century. After having a series of games where he got runs but lacked rhythm, the opener played an attractive knock as he hit boundaries all over the park. Skipper Virat Kohli played a useful cameo as he was in the middle as the winning runs came off Hardik Pandya’s bat.
This win took Kohli and Co. to the top of the standings at CWC ’19. The proud captain said this was the most amazing team he had been a part, as the Team India have seven wins and only a single defeat in their phenomenal World Cup campaign. Who they would meet in the semi-final clash was to be decided by the result of the South Africa-Australia match. Regardless, of the opponent – New Zealand or England – the Men in Blue have established time and again how they are a formidable unit on any given day.