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Kumar Sangakkara added yet another laurel to his already impressive wreath when he scored 55 in the second innings of the second Test against England. He achieved the rare feat of scoring at least 50 in each of his last seven Test innings, becoming only the fourth man in the history of the game to do so. Shiamak Unwalla and Bharath Seervi have more.
The bowler — whether a spinner or a seamer — bowls a beautiful delivery on or around off stump. Most batsmen would just let it go past them. Some would poke at it and miss. Others would edge it. Kumar Sangakkara, however, hits it through covers for four.
A feature of Sangakkara’s batsmanship over the years has been his flowing cover drive. The mark of most high quality batsmen is how well they can play the shot; Sachin Tendulkar used to play it upright with a forward push, Rahul Dravid played it with a full stretch forward and a slightly angled bat; Ricky Ponting used to lean on the back foot and throw his weight behind it; Jacques Kallis would (and still does) arch his back with a clean follow-through.
Sangakkara has his own way of playing the shot. Invariably, he goes down on one knee and punches it away through the tiniest of gaps against all manner of bowling. It was this shot that he played most effectively and most attractively in his brief but vital 55-run knock on Day Three of the second Test against England.
When he scored his 50th run, he entered elite company by appearing in the record books. He had scored at least 50 runs in each of his last seven Test innings — an accomplishment just three batsmen in the history of the game could boast of before him.
The first of the three was West Indian legend Sir Everton Weekes, whose awesome run of form saw him string together an unbelievable five centuries in a row. He was the first batsman to score seven consecutive scores over 50 in the process. Weekes, alongside fellow “Ws” Sir Clyde Walcott and Sir Frank Worrell, formed an indomitable trio in the West Indian line-up of the 1940s and 1950s.
|Total runs: 872||90||India||Chennai|
Zimbabwean lynchpin Andy Flower was the second to attain the landmark. His golden run of form came in 2000-2001.
|2000-01||183 not out||India||Delhi|
|232 not out||India||Nagpur|
|Total runs: 757||79||New Zealand||Wellington|
|Average : 151.4||73||Bangladesh||Bulawayo|
The third man was another West Indian, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who has been the backbone of the line-up for over two decades. He is one of only two people — the other being Sangakkara — to have strung together 50-plus scores in six consecutive innings twice.
|116 not out||England||Manchester|
|136 not out||England||Chester-le-Street|
|Total runs: 619||70||England||Chester-le-Street|
|Average : 123.8||104||South Africa||Port Elizabeth|
Kumar Sangakkara’s extraordinary form has continued from the start of the year when he thrashed Bangladesh for plenty. He and Chanderpaul are the only ones to record 50-plus scores in six consecutive innings on two separate occasions.
|Total runs: 841||79||England||Leeds|
As impressive as these records are, they become even more astounding when seen in context. Sangakkara had scored six consecutive scores in excess of 50 earlier in his career as well, while Chanderpaul did it barely a year after he scored seven in a row. However, on both occasions, the batsmen’s averages were considerably higher in their six-innings stretch than it was in the seven-innings one. Sangakkara even scored more in those six innings than he did in the current seven-innings run. Sangakkara also has a chance of becoming the only batsmen to score eight fifty-plus scores in consecutive innings. However, he will have to wait till July when Sri Lanka hosts South Africa for that.
|Sri Lanka||200 not out||Bangladesh||Colombo (PSS)|
|2007||222 not out||Bangladesh||Kandy|
|Total runs: 915||92||England||Kandy|
|Shivnarine Chanderpaul||107 not out||Australia||North Sound|
|West Indies||77 not out||Australia||North Sound|
|2008||79 not out||Australia||Bridgetown|
|Total runs: 515||76||New Zealand||Dunedin|
|Average: 257.5||126 not out||New Zealand||Napier|
(Shiamak Unwalla is a reporter with Cricket Country. He is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and Cricket fanatic who likes to pass his free time by reading books, watching TV shows, and eating food. Sometimes all at the same time. You can follow him on twitter at @ShiamakUnwalla)
Bharath Seervi is a cricket statistician who is obsessed with digging numbers, facts and records related to the game. An active member of Society of Cricket Statisticians of India, he blogs atwww.cricketseervistats.blogspot.com. He can be followed on Twitter atwww.twitter.com/SeerviBharath and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SeerviCricket)
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