Leeds: India ended their last of the round-robin matches in a glorious manner through opener Rohit Sharma’s record-breaking feat of five centuries in a single World Cup to trounce Sri Lanka by seven wickets at the Headingley ground here today. It was the swashbuckling opener’s third consecutive century in seven days as he erased former legendary Sri Lankan batsman Kumar Sangakkara’s record of four centuries in the 2015 World Cup. Sharma featured in a 189-run partnership in 30.1 overs with his opening partner K.L. Rahul after Sri Lanka were restricted to 264 for seven in 50 overs.
Sharma had hit an unbeaten 140 against South Africa, 122 against Pakistan, 102 versus England and 104 against Bangladesh in this World Cup. His 103 off 94 balls today, studded with 14 boundaries and two sixes, erased all doubts of whether Sri Lanka would try and wreck India on a wicket that wasn’t easy to bat on. Other than Sharma, in the history of international cricket, only one man has scored five centuries in a series — that being West Indian Clyde Walcott in 1955, when he hit five centuries in a Test series against Australia.
Rahul, who had earlier spoken of his frustration at not being able to convert his scores of 40s and half centuries into centuries, recorded his first ton in the World Cup scoring 111 runs off 118 balls. His skipper Virat Kohli chipped in with an unbeaten 34 and ensured the victory in with 39 balls to spare.
Earlier, Sri Lanka’s former captain and all-rounder Angelo Mathews — who would have figured among the world’s best all-rounders, but for his injuries in recent years — demonstrated his batting flair and lifted his country from a precarious 55 for four to a challenging 264 for 7.
Mathews and Lahiru Thirimanne, who cracked 53 runs off 68 balls, put on 124 runs in 26.1 overs for the fifth wicket. India’s strike bowler Jaspirt Bumrah had threatened to run through the Sri Lankan batting, removing their skipper and opener Dimuth Karunaratne (10) and his partner Kusal Perera (18). Bumrah returned with match figures of three for 37 from his ten overs, which included the wicket of Mathews too. Ravindra Jadeja, who came in for Mohammad Shami in this match, picked the wicket of Kusal Mendis, stumped by Mahendra Singh Dhoni. The former captain and wicketkeeper-batsman Dhoni, over whom questions are being raised as to when he would retire, had a hand in Bumrah’s first two wickets, too, as took the two catches. Dhoni also caught next man Avishka Fernando (20) off Hardik Pandya to make it a total of four victims for him in the match.
Bumrah became the fastest Indian bowler to bag 100 wickets in One Day Internationals (ODI) in his 56th match, beating Shami’s record in 57 matches.
Mathews had a life when he was dropped by Bhuvaneshwar Kumar at long-on off Jadeja when he was on 61. Kumar had a bad day as a bowler too and was hit for 73 runs in ten overs. By the 40th over, Sri Lanka reached the 200-run mark and Mathews reached his century in the 44th over off 115 balls. It was his third ODI century and interestingly all three have come against India.
Kuldeep Yadav ended Thirimanne’s innings while attempting a big hit, only to be caught at backward point by Jadeja. Dhananjaya De Silva, who remained unbeaten on 29 runs, had also added 74 runs in 10.3 overs with Mathews for the sixth wicket.
Mathews’ brilliant innings came to an end when Bumrah had him caught by Rohit Sharma in the covers. In the last ten overs, Sri Lanka could muster only 64 runs.
Many felt that India had let Sri Lanka off their grip after taking the first four wickets quickly. But when the Indian openers, Sharma and Rahul, came in to bat, they removed all fears by putting on a 50-run partnership off 41 balls. In the 17th over, Sharma hit Dhananjaya da Silva for two sixes and reached his half century in 48 balls. By the 19th over, the pair had put on 100 runs for the opening partnership. At the halfway mark, India went past 150 runs and needed only 113 more runs as it became amply clear that Sri Lanka had little chance to make a match of it.