A dead rubber for Sri Lanka and probably a dead rubber for India, that was the situation we found ourselves in with this match and it played out as boringly as that scenario predicted it to be. Sri Lanka refused to take risks then found themselves in early danger of being bowled out cheaply before a fightback of sorts that seemed to be more about India experimenting than Sri Lanka fighting.
India was like a cat playing with her food, and, in spite of Sri Lanka getting all the way to 264 and only losing 7 wickets in the end, it was a total that India never looked in any danger of not reeling in. Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul laughed at the target, briefly threatening to get there without losing a wicket before conspiring to lose three in a heap right at the end.
It was one-sided, it was boring and it was tedious – everything that we’ve come to expect from an India vs Sri Lanka match. That it led to India topping the table and getting to face New Zealand in their semi-final is extraordinarily undeserved. The other match was far more exciting than this one.
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Five Things We Learned:
(1) Sri Lanka really, seriously, stink
Don’t be misled that they finished as high as sixth and were talked about as being a possible semi-finalist, this Sri Lankan team is absolutely awful. Their ranking of ninth is not a mistake – that is how bad they really are. In fact, arguably they should be 10th, behind Afghanistan. I’d also like to see how well Scotland and Zimbabwe would go against them before I am convinced that they are that good. Could Ireland beat them? Probably.
India made a mockery of them in this game, as so many other teams have this tournament. Their ranking in this tournament is as a result of a lot of luck, in terms of games, order they played teams and so forth. In the end they are still an awful, awful team. Sri Lanka haven’t been this bad since they were an associate team in 1979.
(2) India have a very good team
Ravindra Jadeja came in here, for his first game of the World Cup, and suddenly we remembered that he really is an incredibly good player. To have someone like that sitting on the sidelines highlights India’s strength – or perhaps it hints as to how bad their selectors are. Or maybe he isn’t quite there. He played here in place of Mohammad Shami, and it didn’t look a particularly genuine pick.
(3) And yet India didn’t look particularly good
The last game before the semi-finals is not the time to be messing around and yet that is precisely what India did. Sure, it made fun of Sri Lanka, but against the better sides that they will face in the semi-finals and final, such bullying won’t help too much. They will be facing New Zealand, who will be licking their lips that India are still refusing to play at their best.
(4) Rohit Sharma is a chance for player of the tournament
Shakib al Hasan should get it, but Rohit is now one of three other players with an outside chance of stealing it from the Bangladeshi star, along with the Australian duo of Mitchell Starc and David Warner. The big thing holding Rohit back is that Rohit has tended to get easy runs, bullying runs.
He epitomises India’s campaign so far, which is to make fun of the lesser teams – which, as far as India are concerned, are every team outside of the top five (fifth being South Africa, as India thought they would be up there). Even Pakistan and Bangladesh were bullied. Rohit shouldn’t get anywhere near player of the tournament level. But he does have a lot of runs, and some people just look at the statistics and ignore what they’ve actually done.
If they just look at statistics, Rohit is a chance.
(5) This is why a 10 team World Cup is a bad idea
This was a boring one-sided match, the worst element of the 10 team World Cup, and why everyone, bar India, wanted more teams. If we had had teams 11 and 12 here, Scotland and Zimbabwe, they may well have beaten Sri Lanka. Teams 13 and 14, Ireland and Nepal, equally could have challenged them. Groups are better than round robins. There were many reasons why a 10 team World Cup was a bad idea but this match summed it up pretty neatly.