Two teams who are very much still in the reckoning at the ICC Cricket World Cup meet in the tournament on Thursday when the Wankhede Stadium stages the match between the hosts India and Sri Lanka.
India have already secured their spot in the semi-final but Sri Lanka know that if they are going to keep their campaign alive then they have to go to Mumbai and come away with a win. These two met in the Asia Cup final recently and that didn’t go well for the underdogs.
The campaign has been something of a cruise so far for India but really their tournament hasn’t yet begun. I don’t think there was ever a world in which India would not make the semi-final of this event in their home conditions and that is how it has proved. They have three more group matches left including this one and are really just playing out time until the semi-final comes around, so it will be interesting to see if they can maintain their intensity.
The one question which was being asked of the Indians was whether they could win a match batting first having chased a score in each of their opening five matches. England asked that question of them and the hosts answered it emphatically. Now you suspect the only thing that can get the better of them is injuries so it might be that they rotate their personnel from here on in to ensure everyone is fresh and ready for when the knockout stuff begins.
Sri Lanka know the situation from here on in. They have to win their last three matches and hope the odd result goes their way if they are going to make it into the semi-final. Their first objective in this match is to ensure they are much more competitive than they were the last time these two sides met in the Asia Cup final where they were shot out for just 50. It goes without saying that they will need an awful lot more than that to have any chance of winning here.
Sri Lanka did look like they were getting themselves right back into this tournament after beginning with three defeats. Wins over the Netherlands and England looked to be building confidence but then they threw in a shocker of a display against Afghanistan when they least needed it which has left them with no room for error from here on in. Injuries certainly haven’t helped them in the competition to date but at least they can play with a clear mind and know they need positive cricket from here on in.
Sign up for a Boylesports account and bet £10 to get up to £20 in free bets! Perfect offer for the World Cup! Click the image below for this great offer! New accounts only. 18+ T&Cs apply. Gamble Aware.
There is still no Hardik Pandya available for India and it has been claimed he won’t be back until at least the last group game. That could lead to the hosts being unchanged although at some point you would think they would want to get a game into R Ashwin in case he is needed in the latter stages.
Sri Lanka are running out of players to make changes with. They might want to make a change to give their batting unit a boost but they probably have the best players already in the side so Chris Silverwood might ask his charges to perform better.
I’ll go with a couple of bets over the course of the day on Thursday. I wasn’t going to target anything to do with the boundaries or the sixes after Sri Lanka put in a very ordinary batting performance in the last game but then a 12.5 sixes line presented itself and on this ground the over just has to be taken. If India bat first there is every chance that they clear this total on their own with this being the home IPL ground of Rohit Sharma and Suryakumar Yadav but I would be surprised if Sri Lanka don’t clear the ropes a few times given how easy they are to clear. Sri Lanka need to win so I expect them to bat with a bit of responsibility here and this is an Indian attack which has been hit for seven sixes by Afghanistan, eight by Bangladesh and seven by New Zealand and even England hit three in getting bowled out for 129 at the weekend. This line is low enough for me to be reeled in.
The other bet I like and the one which I was always looking to take is Mohammed Siraj to be the leading India bowler in the match. He went wicketless against England but that has never been the case against Sri Lanka. He has played five ODIs against Sri Lanka, all of which have been in 2023, and come away with figures of 2-30, 3-30, 4-32, 1-17 and 6-21. Three of those efforts have been top wicket taking ones and twice in this tournament he has had a share of the most wickets. You can get 7/2 on him having the most wickets here and that looks a big price on a pitch where bat is likely to dominate ball.
Back Over 12.5 sixes for a 3/10 stake at 1.83 with BetVictor
Back M.Siraj Top India Bowler for a 2/10 stake at 4.50 with William Hill
Back him here: