July 6, Saturday; 13:30 IST
Live on Star Sports, streaming on Hotstar
The main picture
India vs Sri Lanka on Saturday is not quite the proverbial dead rubber. The main reason is that India still have the final league position to play for and, secondly, they will want to go into the semi-finals with a win. A first-place finish will help them avoid England and instead play fourth-placed New Zealand at Old Trafford in Manchester in the first semi-final. That is not in India’s control, though, with Australia playing South Africa in the other match, aiming to cement their position at the summit.
The objective for Sri Lanka will be to finish off on a high. The victory over the West Indies has been one of the few highs for the Islanders at this World Cup, with missed opportunities and two washouts (against Bangladesh and Pakistan) early in the campaign costing them in the race to finish in the top four.
The batting, as it has for much of the last 12-18 months, has let down Sri Lanka during key moments, but the emergence of Avishka Fernando, Kusal Perera producing consistent scores at the top of the order and Lasith Malinga’s impact with the ball are the positives to come out of the tournament. These three players will be key to Sri Lanka’s chances of beating India.
Angelo Mathews effectively bowled Sri Lanka to victory against the West Indies with the wicket of centurion Nicholas Pooran, but he is unlikely to bowl again, on Saturday. Against India, who are a far superior and more complete unit, Sri Lanka must make their dominance count. Beyond Malinga and, to an extent, Dhananjaya de Silva in the match against England, Sri Lanka’s bowling has lacked incision, and their fielding under pressure against the West Indies was shoddy. Needless to say, they must tighten up in these two areas, in particular, to challenge India.
From India’s perspective, they would have liked to be completely sure of their playing XI by now. While Rishabh Pant has cemented his place at No. 4 with a couple of decent scores, the team management must address the No. 7 position. Dinesh Karthik failed with the bat against Bangladesh, having come in place of Kedar Jadhav. The question now is, will India, having already delayed it, take a look at Ravindra Jadeja ahead of the semi-finals? This is the only concern for India ahead of their final league match.
Weather forecast and pitch report
The forecast says that Saturday will be sunny, with a maximum of 21-degree Celsius.
India and Sri Lanka will play on the same pitch that was used for the match between Afghanistan and the West Indies. It was good for batting on Thursday, with both teams producing an aggregate of 599 runs, but it’s likely to be on the drier side and therefore more conducive to spinners and slow bowlers.
India vs Sri Lanka Dream11 team prediction, predicted playing 11
Dream11: Rohit Sharma (c), KL Rahul, Kusal Perera, Avishka Fernando, Rishabh Pant (wk), Virat Kohli, Hardik Pandya, Lasith Malinga, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Yuzvendra Chahal
Predicted India playing 11: 1 Virat Kohli (c), 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 KL Rahul, 4 Rishabh Pant, 5 MS Dhoni (wk), 6 Hardik Pandya, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Mohammed Shami, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal
Predicted Sri Lanka playing 11: 1 Dimuth Karunaratne (c), 2 Kusal Perera (wk), 3 Avishka Fernando, 4 Kusal Mendis, 5 Angelo Mathews, 6 Dhananjaya de Silva, 7 Lahiru Thirmanne, 8 Thisara Perera/Milinda Siriwardana/Jeffrey Vandersay, 9 Lasith Malinga, 10 Isuru Udana, 11 Kasun Rajitha
The intensity is likely to be high despite one team having little to play for in their final league match. For Sri Lanka to challenge India, they will have to replicate their performances from the wins over Afghanistan, England and the West Indies.