Sport is at its most exciting when there is an even contest between two teams. Even partisan fans won't relish a one-sided contest between two mismatched teams as that detracts from the event as a whole.
India pummelled Sri Lanka in the three Test series 3-0 to register their first ever clean sweep in a series of three Tests away from home. They now take on the hosts in a five match ODI series, starting Sunday.
Sri Lanka are a much better outfit in the limited overs and the matches are expected to be much more closely fought.
Here is a close look at four close encounters between the two teams in ODIs.
India vs Sri Lanka, ODI Final, Singer Akai Nidahas Trophy, R Premadasa Stadium, Colombo, 7th July 1998
India's much-vaunted opening pair of Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly gave India a solid start with the Little Master at his very best. In Sri Lanka scores of 300 were a rare occurrence and the highest score successfully chased prior to this particular match was 281 by Sri Lanka against Zimbabwe in 1998.
Tendulkar and Ganguly both helped themselves to centuries scoring 128 and 109 respectively and put on 252 runs for the opening wicket. This was a record for the first wicket in ODIs at that time and is still the seventh highest opening partnership in ODIs. India ended up with a formidable 307/6 off their 50 overs.
In reply, Sri Lanka got off to a brisk start thanks to Sanath Jayasuriya. Aravinda De Silva played another typically belligerent innings of 105 in just 94 balls as Sri Lanka edged closer to victory.
The Lankans had the match in their grasp as they needed 28 runs off the last 28 balls with five wickets in hand. However, disaster struck in the form of three run-outs and India won a close match by six runs. Tendulkar was adjudged the Man of the Match.
India vs Sri Lanka, ODI, Asia Cup, R Premadasa Stadium, Colombo, 27th July 2004
Electing to bat first, India lost Tendulkar early but a century partnership between Virender Sehwag and Ganguly put them back on course.
However, both Sehwag and Rahul Dravid fell in quick succession and Ganguly and Yuvraj Singh had to rebuild the innings. India finished with 271/6 off their 50 overs.
In reply, Sri Lanka lost wickets at regular intervals but Jayasuriya stood firm at one end and went after the bowling. He scored a blistering century and apart from Tillakaratne Dilshan (39) no other batsmen crossed 20.
Sri Lanka needed 18 runs off the last three overs with four wickets in hand and looked favourites at that time. However, Jayasuriya was caught and bowled by Sehwag and that started the rot.
The Lankans needed 11 runs off the last over but could manage only six and India won a thriller by four runs. Sehwag was the Man of the Match.
India vs Sri Lanka, ODI, Madhavrao Scindia Cricket Ground, Rajkot, 15th December 2009
On an absolute belter of a track, Tendulkar and Sehwag went on the rampage after India elected to bat. They put on 153 for the first wicket as Sehwag scored an imperious 146 off just 102 balls studded with 17 fours and six sixes.
India reached an imposing 414/7 off their 50 overs and Sri Lanka were staring down the barrel.
Dilshan and Upul Tharanga repeated the feat of the Indian openers and put on 188 for the first wicket. Kumar Sangakkara continued the good work and scored 90 off just 43 balls and at one stage the Lankans looked like they would win in a canter.
Sri Lanka needed 99 off 81 balls with eight wickets in hand. However, they committed hara-kiri and snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. They lost three wickets to run-outs in the last 11 balls as India won the high scoring bout by three runs. Sehwag was adjudged the Man of the Match.
India vs Sri Lanka, ODI series Final, Queens Park Oval, Port of Spain, Trinidad, 11th July 2013
After the Champions Trophy triumph, India set a date with the Islanders in the final of a tri-series where the hosts West Indies crashed out. After missing out the initial stages due to injury, MS Dhoni was back for the final.
Electing to field first, the Indian bowlers applied brakes on the Sri Lankan batting. Only Kumar Sangakkara and Lahiru Thirimanne made substantial contributions as Sri Lanka scored a below par 201 all out.
In reply, Rohit Sharma led the way with a brilliant 58 as India made a cautious start. However, a collapse saw them reeling at 167/8 with Dhoni and Vinay Kumar at the crease.
Dhoni was content to just work the ball around and Vinay gave him adequate support. The ninth wicket fell at 182 and the last man Ishant Sharma joined Dhoni at the crease.
Dhoni sealed the match in style hitting Shaminda Eranga for six, four and six off the first three deliveries of the last over to seal India’s triumph.
This prompted Ian Bishop to exclaim 'Magnificent Mahendra' on commentary.
One hopes that the matches in this ODI series are as exciting and spectator riveting as the matches above.
The author tweets @ravivenkat007