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India looked the best team by a country mile: Atherton

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Mumbai, Nov 3 (PTI) Former England captain Michael Atherton feels in-form India are the “best team by a country mile” in the ongoing World Cup.

India on Thursday thrashed Sri Lanka by 302 runs to record their seventh straight win and become the first team to qualify for the semifinals.

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India first piled up a mammoth 357 for 8 in 50 overs and then bundled out a hapless Sri Lanka for a paltry 55 in 19.4 overs to register their biggest victory by margin of runs in the 48-year history of the tournament.

“They’ve looked the best team by a country mile. They’ve got the best bowling attack. That’s really the thing that has stood out for me,” Artherton said on ICC’s Review Podcast.

“They’re a very good all-round side, obviously, but to watch them tonight (Thursday) 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.”

Mohammed Shami continued his impressive form, picking up his second five-wicket haul in the tournament to take his tally to 14 in just three matches.

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With 45 World Cup wickets under his belt, a record for India, Shami overtook former pacer Zaheer Khan’s feat of 44.

Mohammed Siraj supported him with a three-wicket burst, along with fellow speedster Jasprit Bumrah.

Among spinners, Ravindra Jadeja scalped a victim, while Kuldeep Yadav turned out to be highly economical.

Artherton said the current Indian pace battery makes the team look invincible.

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“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. (Javagal) Srinath and (Venkatesh) Prasad, when I played, were very good, Zaheer Khan obviously.

“They’ve had very, very good bowlers, but this three, backed up by the two spinners, it’s a really top quality all-round attack right now.”

India will be up against second-placed South Africa next at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Sunday.

The Proteas so far have lost only one match out of seven they have played.

With the batting department of both the teams at their peak, Atherton said the match between the two top teams promises to be an exciting contest.

“It’s going to be a taster of what may be to come in the knockout stages.

“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,” he concluded.

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