Kumar Sangakkara, Sri Lanka's most reliable of players, dropped a couple of chances – one each of the Indian openers – and before you knew it India ran away with the first innings of the 1st ODI against Sri Lanka in Cuttack, with Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane carting, driving, jinking, paddling and lofting the bowlers with great glee.
Sangakkara dropped a catch, he really should have held, in just the seventh over when Dhawan was only on 10, and boy did the left-hander make Sri Lanka pay for that mistake. To make matters worse, a little over ten overs later, with Rahane on 38, Sangakkara flung himself to his right but could only get his fingertips to the ball, and India, instead of probably being on 76 for two, remained on 76 for no loss, and then some more; a lot more.
The opening duo for India made full use of those lives, smashing the bowlers with consummate ease to put on "now that is what I call an opening partnership" 231 in just 35 overs.
Dhawan (113, 107b, 14x4, 3x6) and Rahane (111, 108b, 13x4, 2x6) fell in relatively quick succession after that, but Suresh Raina, in his 200th ODI, did what he does best to guide India to a massive 363 for five in their 50 overs.
In reply, Sri Lanka never even remotely got near the vicinity of threatening to run down the target, with the visitors finishing on 194 all out in 39.2 overs to crash to a massive 169-run defeat.
If Sri Lanka were going to stand a chance of coming close, they were going to need big innings from their big three of Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, but unfortunately for Sri Lanka only the latter pulled out a score of note.
Dilshan (18, 22b, 2x4) did not really look that convincing, wafting at thin air off quite a few deliveries from Umesh Yadav, before the India fast bowler found that outside edge. His opening partner Upul Tharanga struggled even more en route to a painful 28 from 53 balls, leaving Sri Lanka having to rely on two of their greatest modern day batsmen.
Sangakkara (13, 13b, 2x4) came in and looked in good touch, hitting a couple of boundaries early, but a wonderful delivery from Ishant Sharma (8-1-34-4), which just moved a touch off the seam saw him walk back to the pavilion, with India then turning the screws despite losing Varun Aaron to injury after just 4.1 overs from the express pacer.
Jayawardene (43, 36b, 6x4, 1x6) was the only one to put up any kind of resistance for Sri Lanka, looking like he was playing in a completely different innings to the rest of his teammates, striking fours and sixes at will, as wickets tumbled at the other end.
With no support acts, however, Jayawardene was waging a lone battle, and once Akshar Patel (6-0-24-2), in for the rested Ravindra Jadeja, picked up the wicket of the silky right-hander, the match was as good as done.
Earlier, the start was not hunky dory for India, with the openers struggling to score runs in the first Powerplay as the Sri Lanka bowlers took advantage of some movement in the wicket.
Dhammika Prasad and Lahiru Gamage, making his debut, bowled quite well up front, beating both batsmen on several occasions, and making run-scoring as difficult as possible. At that point, it looked like Sri Lanka would not miss the likes of Lasith Malinga, Rangana Herath and Nuwan Kulasekara, who was not selected in the XI for this ODI, but once Rahane and Dhawan settled in, they went into another zone.
That zone was called the hit-boundaries-at-will level, with Angelo Mathews left scratching his head as runs flowed off both blades with ridiculous ease. India were on just 90 after 20 overs, but with Rahane and Dhawan finding their groove, they smashed 105 runs in the next ten overs – the second Powerplay included -- to race to 195 in 30.
From there it was only going to be one way for India – up – as Rahane, first, and then Dhawan, with his trademark celebration with those hands aloft following suit, reached their hundreds to turn the screws.
The wickets of Dhawan and Rahane, in the 35th and 38th overs respectively, did not stop the India juggernaut, with Raina, in particular, and Kohli treating the remaining overs like a T20 innings, and controlling the final assault.
It is a delight to watch Raina and Kohli in full flow, and the left-hander in particular, coming in at No.3, ahead of skipper Kohli, was a sight to behold – those straight sixes and gliding-off-the-bat boundaries in full evidence.
The star duo put on 52 runs in just 34 balls, before Raina (52, 34b, 4x4, 3x6) was given lbw off Suraj Randiv. Randiv, who fought back pretty well after being carted around early to finish with could-have-been-a-lot-worse figures of 10-0-78-3, also sent Kohli (22, 21b, 2x4) packing as Sri Lanka limited the damage to a certain extent in the final five overs, despite the best efforts of Ambati Rayudu (27, 20b, 3x4), Akshar Patel (14 n.o., 4b, 2x6) and Wriddhiman Saha (10 n.o., 8b, 1x4).
With Sri Lanka caving in rather easily, though, that total was enough, and then some.