Leeds: Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne has backed India to win the World Cup after losing to Virat Kohli's side at Headingley on Saturday. India wrapped up their group stage campaign with a seven-wicket victory inspired by Rohit Sharma's record fifth century of the tournament.
Sri Lanka, the 1996 champions, created the biggest upset of this World Cup by beating hosts England but failed to make the semi-finals. Karunaratne believes that of the four semi-finalists in India, England, holders Australia and New Zealand, it is Kohli's team who are the most well balanced.
"I think India has a better chance to win this World Cup," Karunaratne told reporters. "And I think on that particular day if the other team can do better than the India team, they're definitely going to win."
Rohit Sharma, who made 103, led India's chase during his 189-run opening stand with KL Rahul, who went on to top score with 111. Earlier, Jasprit Bumrah took three wickets to restrict Sri Lanka to 264 for seven despite a gritty hundred from Angelo Mathews.
Karunaratne, who was made the captain just ahead of the World Cup, credited India's domestic structure for their steady flow in talent. "I think India, they have a nice structure behind the India national team. I think they have the IPL (Indian Premier League)," said Karunaratne.
"They have good domestic teams and a good season. So those are the things they will keep building, keep producing the good players. So we expect the same from our administration." Karunaratne said the team was disappointed not to give a winning farewell to veteran paceman Lasith Malinga, who was playing his last World Cup game.
"We all want to give him a nice farewell, but unfortunately we couldn't. But I think we tried really hard," said Karunaratne. "But Mali (Malinga) is going to play another couple of games in Sri Lanka against Bangladesh. We'll try to give a nice send-off at that time."