India's campaign in the London Olympics may have been slightly off colour so far but the men in blue have bagged top-honours in Sri Lanka. While cricket and a series in Sri Lanka are miniscule in comparison the Olympics which are still the pinnacle of sporting competition globally, the return of MS Dhoni and his team to cricket with a win, augers well looking forward.
Here is a recap of how the series panned out:
Confidence from the onset
India came from a lay-off of over a month. The team looked relaxed, rested and eager to get their campaign going. It was Sri Lanka any way. No bounce, no pace and no cold conditions. The eagerness could have been tested had the season began in conditions like say, South Africa. It wasn't and the result just underlined the confidence that was apparent on the faces of Indian players.
Dhoni in the press conference before departure said that he was looking forward to a good start to the playing year and cricket pundits were not willing to argue with him. Not under-estimating Sri Lanka but India have mostly always played dominant cricket in the sub-continent.
It was a deserted stadium in Hambantota which greeted the two teams. Some found it surprising, others said it was a sign of how the series has failed to rouse fans from their slumber of having had just too much.
India went about their work with clinical precision, with the bat of course. Piling on 300 despite a mis-firing Rohit Sharma, the team threw caution to the wind and showed that the top-order was fighting fit.
Though Gautam Gambhir fell early, Virender Sehwag and Virat Kohli showed Delhi may just be firmly established as the new centre for producing power-packed batsmen, consistently.
The bowling could have been better. It however allowed Sri Lanka to come close, even if in the final few overs after Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara had registered a partnership worth over a 100.
India went 1-0 up.
Surrender in the second
The pitch was 'accused' as being more green than usual. And that is the only colour that haunts Indian batsmen such that they prefer to rush back and hide in the pavillion.
It was no different in the second ODI in Hambantota. The side which managed 314 earlier, crumbled to 138. The batsmen who combined to hit 202 now together hit 16. While Gambhir managed to survive, crawling to 65 off 96, the second highest scorer was R Ashwin with his 21.
Apart from the Gambhir and Ashwin, the rest of the team managed a shocking 41 runs. On the same pitch, Sri Lanka sealed the match inside 20 overs.
The beauty of this sport in India however is that all to be forgotten with a win in the next match. And it was!
Sri Lanka make it 1-1
Thunder in the third
Indian bowlers came up and took the early advantage in the third ODI, this time in Colombo. Zaheer Khan and Irfan Pathan claimed early scalps but Kumar Sangakkara managed to take his side to 286.
Hand it to the Indian batsman to race to a target given ideal conditions and the job can be assured of a successful completion. Gambhir was the pillar whose 102 set a base. What is an ODI though if nails are not chewed off completely.
A few wickets fell and it looked like going to the wire. It was Suresh Raina, smacking 65 off 45 out of nowhere, who took his side to the podium with two balls left intact.
If 286 was not enough, 251 was not going to be easy either.
Manoj Tiwary was given a chance to play at long last and he delivered with the ball. 4 wickets next to his name left Sri Lanka in trouble despite good knocks up front.
When India came out to chase, Gambhir could last only 5 balls before being rattled by Lasith Malinga. It was Virat Kohli who scripted a superb 128 to take his team to the finish line and seal the series.
India win series 3-1
The two sides came out to battle for the last time in the series. Though merely a formality, India won the toss and chose to set a target, relying on batting to do the talking. At 294 at the end of the innings, it waas more like screaming the intent to not show mercy.
Gambhir plundered 88 up front against Sri Lanka, this time under Angelo Matthews - Mahela rested himself.
There were some drawbacks in Indian scheme of things too. Ajinkya Rahane got to play only to score 9. Rohit was bowled on a duck, again! Overall, the 20-run win however, sealed a series that again proved why India dominate the sport in the sub-continent and now have the second spot in ODI rankings to show for it.
India 4-1 and number 2 in ODI rankings