Cardiff, Jun 19: Unbeaten so far, a confident India would be up against a massive challenge when they take on sub-continental rivals Sri Lanka, a team on the ascendancy after a slow start, in the semifinal match of the ICC Champions Trophy here tomorrow.
India will be the fancied team on paper but the Lankans are also on a high after defeating both England and Australia en route to the semifinal, which would be a repeat of the 2011 World Cup final in Mumbai.
While India were the first team to make the last four from the tournament's Group of Death with an all-win record, Sri Lanka grabbed the last semifinal berth on Tuesday after warding off a late challenge from Australia.
The 20-run win against the Aussies at The Oval enabled the Lankans to finish level on points with England, but an inferior run-rate pushed them to No. 2 and earned them a date with India at the Sophia Gardens.
For the Lankans, the clash against India will be a grudge game of sorts. In the final of the 2011 World Cup at the Wankhede, India outclassed the co-hosts by six wickets, easily chasing down a 275-run target, with skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni laying the coup de grace with a towering six off Nuwan Kulasekara.
While Sri Lanka have retained the core of that 2011 World Cup Kumar Sangakkara-led squad here at the Champions Trophy, the Indian team has seen an influx of new blood after Sandeep Patil replaced Krishnamachari Srikkanth as chief selector in September 2012.
Only Dhoni, Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina are the remnants of the victorious World Cup squad and the arrival of a set of precocious youths like Ravindra Jadeja and Shikhar Dhawan has had a telling impact on the overall team performance, especially fielding.
The Indians have been on song ever since landing in the UK for the Champions Trophy. The Lankans were the first to face the heat, losing a warm-up game in Birmingham on June 1.