With a place in the semi-final guaranteed, it is possible that India‘s contest against Sri Lanka be considered an inconsequential one. But that’s as far from real as one can get. This may be India’s final league match of the World Cup 2019 but with a new joining in the squad and the possibility of them leapfrogging Australia for the No. 1 spot lurking, Sunday’s clash is equally crucial.

Provided South Africa, defeat Australia and India end their league stage with a win, India go top of the points table. This means India play New Zealand in Manchester, and not England at Edgbaston. Given the recent rut New Zealand find themselves in, Old Trafford would be a preference any day. Hence, expect India to go full-throttle against Sri Lanka. In the past, India and Sri Lanka have played each other more than any other two teams and even though there is a lot less at stake here and there is a feeling of yet another bilateral game to it than a World Cup match, neither side will take it lightly.

That doesn’t mean beating SL would be a walk in the park. The last time India played them in England was in the Champions Trophy 2017, where Sri Lanka chased down 322. From that game in Kusal Mendis and Angelo Mathews are in this squad. Also, it was in Headingley that Sri Lanka stunned England and with a confident win against West Indies, they are pretty capable of surprising another top side and go out with a win.

For India, this is their final chance to tune up their batting. In the previous game, Kedar Jadhav, who has bowled just six overs and hasn’t bowled in the last four games, was swapped for Dinesh Karthik, and Rishabh Pant, with scores of 32 and 48 in the two games, seems to have provided a semblance of balance to the No. 4 spot.

Sri Lanka have had their moments this World Cup. The win against England was followed by Avishka Fernando’s inspiring century against West Indies, Angelo Mathews’ moment of glory with the ball and Lasith Malinga‘s top-crushing yorker reminding everyone of his days of yore. In what is going to be his final World Cup game, what better way to give Malinga a perfect World Cup send-off than a win against one of the semi-finalists?