India v Sri Lanka: Kohli's men need to prove credentials

Lasith Malinga
Malinga has had a good tournament

Ed Hawkins says India should be at full throttle for a game they have to win at Leeds on Saturday

"England made 351 against Pakistan there in May and it looked a road. If India bat first, and the sun is out, they should be capable of something similar"

India v Sri Lanka
Saturday 6 July 10.30
TV: live on Betfair Video and Sky Sports

India need the win

India have qualified for the semi-finals but any suggestion that they will be taking it easy in a meaningless game can surely be dismissed. They will want to - rightly so - avoid a semi-final against England and instead finish top of the group to play New Zealand. That will require a favour from South Africa against Australia but first they must do their own job.

It has been a curious qualifying campaign from India. They were appalling against Afghanistan and then gave up against England. It is hardly the CV of champions. The root cause of their problems has been a loss of faith in their best XI. Kuldeep Yadav has been dropped, they're not sure whether Bhuv Kumar or Mohammad Shami should play, likewise Dinesh Karthik and Kedar Jadav. And KL Rahul is struggling to fill Shikhar Dhawan's shoes.

They do boast the top runscorer in the tournament, though, with Rohit Sharma in extraordinary form. He has four centuries already. Jasprit Bumrah and Shami have 14 wickets apiece. What's the problem with Shami then? Well, there's concern about his death bowling.

Sri Lanka the surprise

If there's a surprise package of this World Cup it is surely Sri Lanka. For the second time in the tournament they downed massive odds-on shots by beating West Indies last time out. Their scalp of England will live long in the memory, too.

It's hard to understand how they have managed such a respectable campaign considering the chaos that had clouded their build-up, not to mention the grumpiness which their players displayed in the early weeks. Nothing was right from facilities to hotels and for all the world they looked like a squad which didn't want to be here.

Before Pakistan-Bangladesh on Friday, they still had a chance of finishing fifth. The key has been Lasith Malinga's ability to roll back the years with 12 wickets, solid runs from Kusal Perera and the emergence of Avishka Fernando.

Runs in Leeds pitch

The Headingley wicket has looked sluggish in this tournament with scores of 311-227-232. That was not its nature in the previous 11 matches (Stretching back to 2006). The average first-innings score in those matches is 300. England made 351 against Pakistan there in May and it looked a road. If India bat first, and the sun is out, they should be capable of something similar.

Possible trade on otusiders

There will be few takers of the [1.15] about India given their laconic performances. Can we make a case for a gamble on Sri Lanka at [7.2]? Probably not. We fear they are too limited to bust a record of one win in the last eight head-to-heads.

There could be room in their price for a trade, though, with Afghanistan providing inspiration on the same wicket against West Indies. They shortened up from [9.0] to the regions of [2.50]. Something similar would be handy.

Rohit underrated

Virat Kohli is 21/10 favourite for top India runscorer with Sportsbook. That's a 32.3% chance. On two-year data he wins at a rate of 29. Close, but no cigar. Rohit is probably not short enough and should be the jolly with a win rate of 38. The 11/5 is value. No other Indian listed has a price which gives us an edge. The 5/2 that India win the match and Rohit top scores could see some business. For top India bowler we were hoping for a bit more on Shami but the 3s (Sportsbook) is bang on the money for his win rate.

Malinga a wager

Malinga is averaging two wickets per game in the tournament and his strike rate of 25.8 is nine clicks better than his nearest team-mate, Nuwan Pradeep. But Pradeep will not play because of illness so it is arguable the 11/4 Sportsbook offer about Malinga being top bowler is value. Likewise his performance quote of over 30.5 (1pt per run, 10 per catch, 20 per wkt) will see business at 5/6.

Discover the latest articles

Read past articles