Kumar Sangakkara continues to be Sri Lanka’s best bet
Kumar Sangakkara became the first batsman to score three World Cup hundreds on the trot. (Source: Reuters)
The previous two hundreds were unbeaten, so Australia managed what the other two – Bangladesh and England – could not, get Sangakkara out. Having already announced that this will be his final ODI World Cup, Sangakkara is reminding to everyone that he is still the numero uno man in the Sri Lankan batting line-up.
Sangakkara’s recent record underlines his value to the Sri Lankan squad. He now has 14,000 ODI runs and is second on the list of highest run-getters behind India’s Sachin Tendulkar.
But it is his record since February 2014 which has catapulted him to newer heights. The elegant southpaw has featured in 40 ODI matches and scored 1949 runs. But what has defined this golden phase has been:
Strike rate of 93.74, better than his career number of 78.76. Then his average in this phase shoots up to 55.68, way more than his career average of 41.73. Also since February 2014, he has hit eight hundreds and 10 half-centuries. If that was not reason enough to wax eloquent about Sangakkara, then consider this: 76,9, 81, 113 n.o., 39, 7, 105 n.o., 117 n.o and 104. These are Sangakkara’s scores in recent ODIs (including today). This shows that in four of the last five innings, Sangakkara has scored hundreds and remained unbeaten thrice.
Sangakkara has earned respect from everyone, including his rivals. “He’s certainly as good as any player I’ve played against. He’s a wonderful batsman. He’s an absolute gentleman, a lovely, lovely guy. I think Kumar and Jacques Kallis are probably two guys I’ve looked up to and think that if they played for different countries, they would be ‑‑ they could quite easily be regarded as the best ever,” said Australian captain Michael Clarke.
But in the minds of his teammates, Sangakkara is the best in the world. “At the current moment I think he’s No. 1. I mean, he is batting really well. Not only is he rotating the strike, but hitting the boundaries as well,” praised Sri Lankan vice-captain Lahiru Thirimanne.
Sangakkara’s role in the squad now is to guide the younger players. Sangakkara along with Tillakratne Dilshan and Mahela Jaywardene are the three senior pros in the squad. The youngsters are therefore thrilled to learn from the trio. “I think it’s fantastic because Dilshan, and Mahela, Kumar are world class players. I had the opportunity to bat with Dilshan and Kumar, it was really fantastic for me because they teach how to rotate the strike and sometimes play to the situations,” added Thirimanne.
On Sunday, Sangakkara added 130 runs for the second wicket with Dilshan as Sri Lanka set about giving Australia’s 376 for nine a real go. Dilshan and Sangakkara really enjoy batting together. In the game against Bangladesh at Melbourne, the duo added an unbeaten 210 runs for the second wicket.
“Yeah, definitely he’s a great player, no doubt about that, for Sri Lanka. He’s doing a lot of things in the game and outside help for the youngsters. He’s still enjoying his batting. I’m really enjoying batting with Kumar in the middle. I think we two have put on more than 14 or 15 hundred‑plus partnerships,” said Dilshan. “I am enjoying with Kumar, we are sharing, as I said earlier, Kumar’s experience. We are discussing in the middle, we are ‑‑ what’s the plan for the next five overs. I just talk to Kumar and we are sharing experience,” added Dilshan about how the two of them approach the batting.
Sangakkara and Jayawardene are now finishing after this World Cup in ODI cricket. When they announced their retirement from T20I cricket, Sangakkara, along with Jayawardene, finished on a high by winning the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh last year. Sangakkara has been in two World Cup finals in 2007 and 2011. He finished on the losing side both times, in fact he was the Sri Lankan captain in 2011.
But now the side wants to give Sangakkara and Jayawardene the perfect sendoff gift. “The amount of service that they’ve rendered to our team has been invaluable. I think they have performed to the best of their ability, and they just want to win all the time, and they’ve contributed so much towards this team, and it’ll be a fitting farewell if we can do it for them,” hoped Sri Lankan captain Angelo Mathews.
Source:: Indian Express