Play hard, party harder. That seemed to be the motto of the India team after wrapping up the series in Colombo on Tuesday night. The spontaneity with which every member, led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, came to the party at the team hotel pub was reflective of the team-effort the boys showed on the field.
After sealing the series 4-0 at home against England, the window for fringe players to make a mark was slammed shut following the Mumbai terror attacks. Now two more matches here will be welcomed by the think-tank in the larger scheme of things.
Pragyan Ojha and Yusuf Pathan were the ones considered the weakest links in the side that played Sri Lanka, but after Tuesday, equations have changed vastly. Ojha returned a career-best haul and Pathan made a slam-bang half-century. Dhoni has already said he will give allrounder Ravindra Jadeja at least one chance in this series - it remains to be seen how the youngster will be fit in.
Ojha's confidence showed at the party as he hit the dance floor sporting a shirt that had 'Hammered' written on the back. The choice of day to wear the shirt and the subtle wit implied was taken. Yusuf waited quietly with brother Irfan --- the younger Pathan is likely to be pitted against Lakshmipathy Balaji for a chance on Thursday --- and watched Sachin Tendulkar, Robin Singh, Venkatesh Prasad and Nitin Patel (physio) play pool. Soon after Yuvraj Singh swooped in, messed up the table and dragged everyone to the floor.
The popular Tamil number 'Manmadarasa' got everyone wild as Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag and Gary Kirsten watched an (almost) all-stag party conquer the dance floor. It was Balaji's turn to lead and, to speak the truth, the likes of Rohit Sharma, Ishant Sharma, Suresh Raina and Dhoni were not too bad shaking a leg. Rohit actually pestered Kirsten to the floor and the little shake by the coach was welcomed with ear-splitting whistles. Daler Mehndi remixes followed and the party heated up and faded into the evening.
For Sri Lanka, a battle for pride remains, having lost three on the trot at home. A sweep by India would only take the crowds --- receding with every loss - further away. It's now a fight for survival.
For India, a win coupled by a loss for Australia against New Zealand, will shoot Dhoni's boys to the second spot on the ODI ranking list. A win will also topple India's record of eight wins on the trot under Sourav Ganguly during the 2003 World Cup.