It was Sri Lanka’s fourth defeat out of seven completed matches against three wins and skipper Dimuth Karunaratne said that it was a reasonable performance by his team considering the fact that at the beginning of the World Cup no one gave them a dog’s chance of winning a single match let alone beating Afghanistan.
Sri Lanka performed well only in patches with the batting, bowling and fielding failing to click together as one unit. They beat Afghanistan to record their first win and their bowling excelled against England a game they won to open out the competition that was heading rather predictably. This win was followed by close call against the West Indies in a high scoring encounter that produced over 600 runs. Two other matches that Sri Lanka should have won were against Australia and South Africa which would have put them in contention for a place in the semi-finals.
India were too strong for the unstable Sri Lankan side and their total of 264-7 which would have been a competitive one against any other team was simply swept aside with much ado by the Rohit Sharma and Lokesh Rahul who both hit centuries and figured in a 183-run opening stand that all but nailed the match.
Sharma’s innings of essence which made him the first player to score five hundreds in a single World Cup tournament impressed the Lankan captain who urged his young batsmen to learn a thing or two from him the way he converts starts into centuries with such regularity.
“Every time he gets a start, he keeps scoring big runs. That’s what we want. He was fearless.
And he knows how he’s going to get a hundred and he’s batting really well,” said Karunaratne at the post-match press conference.
“He knows which bowlers he wants to take charge against and which bowlers he wants to respect. Those are the little things he mastered really well. His plan is simple, he keeps batting and batting. That’s what I want from the youngsters.
“He is an ideal candidate to watch and to learn something from. He just keeps batting and batting. He was very hungry for runs. And that’s a huge thing for the youngsters,” he said.
“The hundred, it came during a really tough period. When you’re 50/4 he comes in during a tough period. And then we got a nice push. Thirimanne, in a supporting role, did really well. At the end of the day we put a good score on this wicket, but unfortunately the Indians batted really well.”
Sri Lanka’s hopes of giving their legendary fast bowler Lasith Malinga a World Cup farewell was spoilt by the defeat against India.
It was not the perfect finale for Malinga, playing in his final World Cup match. The veteran fast bowler got only the solitary wicket of KL Rahul out but went for 82 runs from his ten overs.
Karunaratne hoped the team can give him a better send-off when he retires from ODIs for good.
“We all wanted to give him a nice farewell, but unfortunately we couldn’t. But Mali is going to play another couple of games in Sri Lanka against Bangladesh. We’ll try to give a nice send-off at that time,” he said.
Karunaratne became Indian fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah’s 100th ODI wicket when he flashed at a delivery and was caught behind the wicket.