Virat Kohli Ravindra Jadeja India
India will hope for the best possible start to their ODI series against Sri LankaReuters

Familiarity breeds contempt is how the saying goes, and when it comes to India vs Sri Lanka matches, there is certainly a feeling of "Oh man, these two teams again, how many times will they play each other!" that pervades right through.

After all, no two teams have played more against each other in the recent past than these two, and Sri Lanka are the BCCI's favourite opponents.

But then, this series might be a little different, though (or so one hopes). There is that massive World Cup, of which India are the defending champions, looming large, and both teams will want to head into the tournament in the best possible shape, and that shape can start being manufactured with this series.

Playing a team which will definitely be one of the favourites to lift the title when the World Cup comes along will help India, and if some of the "Oh we don't know if they can step up in the big stage" players actually do just that, then India will have that extra strength so necessary in a long tournament like the World Cup.

From both teams' point of view, hopefully this series which only came into being after the West Indies pulled out of their tour to India prematurely, will turn out to be a blessing in disguise, even if playing in sub-continent conditions, when the World Cup will be played in Australia and New Zealand will not be helpful in terms of acclimatising themselves.

"We had to play two more ODIs against the West Indies anyway [actually one, with another T20I coming in]," said India's captain for the first three ODIs at least Virat Kohli. "So, we are actually playing just three more ODIs now.

"And since Australian conditions cannot be reproduced here, I think this is good practice. It is better than nothing."

There will be plenty of eyes on Kohli for this ODI series, starting with the 1st ODI in Cuttack, not only to see if he continues the form found in the one-day international series against West Indies, but also to see how he copes once more as captain, with regular skipper MS Dhoni given a much-needed rest by the selectors.

"I always like being the captain," he said. "It's a chance to test myself, which I enjoy. Also, I have a young side, where the players have a lot to prove, which gives me room to experiment.

"So, they're all excited and when you have such a young team, there's a lot of energy while fielding, which is good to have as a captain."

Sri Lanka will go into the series with a few chinks to iron out as well. Two of their key bowlers – Rangana Herath and Lasith Malinga – will not be there, and the same goes for India as well with Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami missing.

So, this series might just come down to which team bowls better, and it will be interesting to see how the likes of Varun Aaron, Ishant Sharma, Dhawal Kulkarni and Umesh Yadav make use of this opportunity granted to them.

Sri Lanka will look to build as much momentum as possible, with Angelo Mathews' team already looking like quite a capable unit. With Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara getting to the twilight of their careers, this could just be the final time that we see these legends of cricket on Indian soil – Jayawardene especially, with the right-hander expected to retire after the World Cup.

India vs Sri Lanka – oh so familiar, oh so predictable. With new faces in both sides, however, maybe there will be quite a few "man that is just unbelievable, I cannot believe I just saw that" moments.

Where to Watch Live

Get the 1st ODI Report HERE

The match is scheduled to begin at 1.30 pm IST (8 am GMT, 4 am ET) with live coverage in India on Star Sports 1, Star Sports 3 [in Hindi] and Star Sports HD1. The 1st ODI between India and Sri Lanka can also be watched via free live streaming online by viewers in India on

Viewers in the UK can catch all the action on Sky Sports 2 or by choosing a live stream online on Sky Go or Watch Sky Sports Online. US viewers can catch the game on Willow TV or Willow TV Online, while Middle East and North Africa viewers can watch the match on OSN or OSN Play.

Expected lineups: India: Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane,  Virat Kohli (capt), Ambati Rayudu, Suresh Raina, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Varun Aaron, Umesh Yadav.

Sri Lanka: Upul Tharanga, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Ashan Priyanjan, Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera, Seekkuge Prasanna, Dhammika Prasad, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lahiru Gamage.

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