India, sitting on top of the table with 12 points, will aim for the seventh successive win and a confirmed place in the semi-finals of the ongoing World Cup when they face Sri Lanka at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Thursday.
The team will be without Hardik Pandya, who has reportedly been ruled out of the next two games, but his absence is unlikely to give much headache to the team management since the replacements following his injury, Mohammed Shami and Suryakumar Yadav, have been performing well.
Sri Lanka are placed seventh out of 10 teams on the points table with four points. The islanders have shown some signs of resurgence ever since ace batsman Kusal Mendis took over the mantle of captaincy following injury to Dasun Shanaka.
After losses in the first three matches, the Sri Lankans defeated Netherlands and England before going down to Afghanistan in a surprise result in their previous match.
The last time the two neighbours met each other was in the Asia Cup final in September. Sri Lanka were bowled out for 50 and India won by 10 wickets to record the sixth biggest margin of win (in terms of balls remaining).
Team coach Chris Silverwood said he is hoping that the defeat works as motivation for his boys.
“I would rather hope that the defeat in the Asia Cup would give more motivation to the boys to come out and obviously fight tomorrow, show plenty of spirit and get stuck in to the Indian side,” said Silverwood to the media.
“They (India) are a very good side, we know that. We’ve seen them play some superb cricket this tournament so far. But I think it is a good opportunity for our boys to show what they are made of as well. So hopefully, the defeat in the Asia Cup will give motivation to the boys.”
The Wankhede Stadium will also have an addition during Thursday’s game. A statue of Sachin Tendulkar, the only batsman to score 100 international centuries and one with most runs in both Tests and ODIs, was unveiled at the venue on Wednesday.
Bangladesh first to be eliminated from semis race
Bangladesh became the first team to crash out of the race to semi-finals after they lost to Pakistan by seven wickets at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Wednesday night. The win kept alive Pakistan’s slim hopes of making the last-four stage.