Overall: Two teams experiencing different levels of success
Asia. Sri Lanka. A Wankhede. The 2011 World Cup final was the last time these two teams played an ODI at this location. However, things have changed slightly after a span of twelve years.
India has performed as expected since they were the pre-tournament favorites. Despite missing Shubman Gill for their first two games and Hardik Pandya for their last two, they have won every one of their six games thus far. They will make history by being the first team to go to the semi-finals if they defeat Sri Lanka on Thursday.
Sri Lanka, who qualified for this World Cup through qualifying, is fighting for survival. They are coming off a loss to Afghanistan and have only four points from six games. Their next loss will put them in danger of elimination.
Hardik, who is unlikely to return before India’s last league game against Netherlands, will remain absent for another while. This implies that they may again enter the game with just five elite bowlers, with a tail starting at position eight.
Injuries have also claimed the lives of several players for Sri Lanka, including Dasun Shanaka, their chosen captain. Kusal Mendis took over in his absence, but it appears that it had an impact on his hitting. When Shanaka was captain for the first two games, Mendis hit 198 runs at a strike rate of 166.38. At a strike rate of 76.08, he has since managed just 70 in four innings.
Is he able to rediscover his magic and lead his team to a much-needed victory? Because qualifying for the Champions Trophy 2025 is also on the line, in addition to a semi-final position.
Angelo Mathews and Shreyas Iyer in the spotlight
As India’s first-choice No. 4 going into this World Cup, Shreyas Iyer has amassed 134 runs at an average of 33.50 in six innings. These are not terrible figures, but given the level of competitiveness on the Indian side, they cannot provide any guarantees. It doesn’t help that he failed to make a play on the short ball in the previous two games, his old weakness. If he doesn’t score a lot in the next two games, India might think about benching him when Hardik returns.
It was not intended for Angelo Mathews to be in India for the World Cup. But now that he’s here, Sri Lanka ought to utilize him to the most extent possible; batting him at number seven isn’t the ideal option. With three ODI hundreds coming against India, Mathews has a stellar record against them with an average of 53.57 and a strike rate of 84.93. The strike rate rises to 96.77 and the average nearly doubles to 105.16 when games played in India are taken into account.