India produced a magnificent performance in the 2023 World Cup on Thursday, defeating Sri Lanka by a mammoth 302 runs at the Wankhede Stadium. Going into the game undefeated, India not only extended their winning streak to 7 but also secured a berth in the semi-finals of the marquee tournament, becoming the first to do so in the ongoing edition. It was an all-round show by the side as it posted 357/8 after being invited to bat first, and then bowled a hapless Sri Lankan batting order out on merely 55.
The one-sided nature of the contest reminded many of the Asia Cup final in September earlier this year, when India bowled out the islanders on just 50 before chasing down the target within seven overs.
In the match on Thursday, Mohammed Shami was the star with the ball yet again as he picked his third five-wicket haul at the World Cups, while Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah reigned terror on the Sri Lankans as well. Following a commanding performance, former England captain Michael Atherton was all praise for the Indian bowlers, going to the extent of calling the current trio the “best” he has ever seen.
“They’ve looked the best team by a country mile,” Atherton said on the latest episode of The ICC Review podcast.
“They’ve got the best bowling attack. That’s really the thing that has stood out for me. They’re a very good all-round side, obviously, but to watch them tonight 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.”
“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.”
India will face the high-flying South Africa in their eighth match of the tournament; the Proteas have faced only one defeat so far and remain the biggest threat to India’s top spot, thanks to a higher Net Run Rate.
“It’s going to be a taster of what may be to come in the knockout stages,” Atherton said.
“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.”