India’s players celebrate
India’s players celebrate after the dismissal of Sri Lanka’s Charith Asalanka during their World Cup match at the Wankhede Stadium on Thursday. India won the clash by a 302-run margin. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: India lived up to the tag of favourites in the Cricket World Cup 2023. The thumping 302-run win over Sri Lanka at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Thursday helped the hosts retain their unbeaten record and storm into the semifinals.

Seven wins with 14 points did it for India, although they are yet to play South Africa and the Netherlands. India face the Proteas on Sunday, which could be billed as the virtual final since the two have been the dominant teams in the tournament.

India in pole position

India’s winning streak puts them in pole position to win the tournament. But South African batting has been imposing as they posted five scores of over 300 and one over 400. And their bowling too is formidable. Yet they have choked against the less-fancied Netherlands, which shows the Proteas can collapse under pressure.

The Netherlands haven’t been much of a hurdle for India, who should beat them in their final league fixture. That should help India swell the points tally to an unassailable 16 points even if they lose to South Africa. A loss to South Africa, that’s unlikely, given India’s red-hot form. But this is cricket, limited-overs cricket. Anything can happen.

That shouldn’t worry India, having come through stern examinations against Australia and New Zealand. But the next phase is tricky because it’s a knockout. There can be no comebacks.