Sri Lanka. India. Again

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Really? Another India versus Sri Lanka ODI. We've seen it all before – Asia Cups, tri-series in Dambulla, meaningless bilateral series in the backwaters of India – 30 ODIs since June 2008, in fact.

Really? Another India versus Sri Lanka ODI.

Would the world of cricket not have been better off watching, say, Sri Lanka against Pakistan or New Zealand lock horns with the Indians in the World Cup final?

We've seen it all before – Asia Cups, tri-series in Dambulla, meaningless bilateral series in the backwaters of India – 30 ODIs since June 2008, in fact – and now we're going to be subjected to more of the same.

Virat Kohli's rise through the ranks since his debut in August 2008 typifies the overkill. 13 of the talented batsman's first 20 ODIs came against Sri Lanka and the same can be said for a handful of other fringe Indian stars.

In a Future Tours Programme that is already busting at the seams, too much of the overloaded schedule sees India and Sri Lanka meet.

The rivalry is watered down.

Granted Saturday's showdown brings some sort of significance in that it's Muttiah Muralitharan's last one-dayer and Sachin Tendulkar might bow out of the limited-overs showpiece with a ton of tons, but even most ardent home fans would've hoped for some Pakistani green or Kiwi black to contrast their sea of blue.

A farewell to Daniel Vettori's captaincy or token exit for Shoaib Akhtar would hardly have upstaged Muralitharan or Tendulkar, but rather complemented a fitting finale to the cosmopolitan event.

If anything, this World Cup final only serves to mar forthcoming series between the two teams. Forever and a day future India-Sri Lanka contests will be weighed up against the day Muralitharan said goodbye and Sachin was meant to go big and did – or didn't.

Here's hoping Saturday's encounter serves up an entertaining result, to at least trump <I>those</i> previous 30 by a long shot.

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