India’s outstanding performance continued on Thursday as they secured their seventh consecutive win by defeating Sri Lanka by a remarkable 302 runs, solidifying their place as the first team to qualify for the semifinals.
India’s dominant display began with a formidable total of 357 for 8 in 50 overs. They then proceeded to dismiss Sri Lanka for a mere 55 runs in 19.4 overs, marking their most substantial victory by runs margin in the 48-year history of the tournament.
This exceptional performance has further solidified India’s status as the standout team in the competition, according to Atherton.
“They’ve looked the best team by a country mile. They’ve got the best bowling attack. That’s really the thing that has stood out for me,” Artherton said on ICC’s Review Podcast.
“They’re a very good all-round side, obviously, but to watch them tonight (Thursday) against Sri Lanka here in Mumbai, and then the way they bowled against England in Lucknow, those seamers are making early in-roads and then, making life much easier for the spinners.”
In a display of exceptional form, Mohammed Shami continued to impress by securing his second five-wicket haul in the tournament, elevating his tally to 14 wickets in just three matches. Surpassing former pacer Zaheer Khan’s record of 44, Shami’s 45 World Cup wickets set a new benchmark for India.
Assisting Shami’s brilliance, Mohammed Siraj contributed significantly with a three-wicket burst, complemented by the performance of fellow fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah. Ravindra Jadeja, among the spinners, claimed a wicket, while Kuldeep Yadav notably delivered an economical spell.
Atherton expressed his admiration for the Indian pace attack, stating that the current group of fast bowlers makes the team appear virtually unbeatable. Their collective performance showcased not only Shami’s remarkable feat but also the depth and strength of India’s bowling resources, impressing cricket pundits like Atherton.
“It’s a fantastic attack. I think the quality and depth of the Indian pace bowling is the thing that’s changed dramatically, really, since I played here,” Atherton said.
“I’m not sure I’ve seen a better pace attack than the one India are putting out right now. (Javagal) Srinath and (Venkatesh) Prasad, when I played, were very good, Zaheer Khan obviously.
“They’ve had very, very good bowlers, but this three, backed up by the two spinners, it’s a really top quality all-round attack right now.”
World Cup 2023: India crush Sri Lanka, become first team to qualify for semifinals
India will be up against second-placed South Africa next at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Sunday.
The Proteas so far have lost only one match out of seven they have played.
With the batting department of both the teams at their peak, Atherton said the match between the two top teams promises to be an exciting contest.
“It’s going to be a taster of what may be to come in the knockout stages.
“Whether the players can hold their nerve, whether South Africa can still bat as aggressively and as well against India’s pace attack, that remains to be seen. It’ll be a good pointer to what’s to come,” he concluded.
(With PTI inputs)