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Sri Lanka great Kumar Sangakkara compiled his first century at Lord’s against England. Bharath Ramaraj looks at an all time great batsman, who continues to play nerveless innings in times of crisis for his country.
The word ‘great’ is used about trillion times in the world of sport. On most occasions, there is a pinch of exaggeration associated with it. But Sri Lanka’s pillar of strength, Kumar Sangakkara is one batsman who is rightly known as an all time great. He has done well in most conditions and has played knocks that have gone into the folklore of the game for its poise, fluidity and rhythmic perfection.
At Lord’s, on a flat deck against England, Sangakkara didn’t exactly touch those exalted heights. But after notching up his first hundred at Lord’s, he would have been a satisfied man. At 36, this is going to be his last tour of the Old Blighty, and it would have been a travesty, if he had finished his career without a hundred at the home of cricket.
With Sangakkara, he rarely thumps or whacks it hard to the boundary boards. But when he plays a stroke, it seems like it gently goes past fielders to the boundary. Sangakkara would have amassed 30 runs within no time. In the first innings at Lord’s, it was one of those typical Sangakkara knocks, where he believed in the old maxim of playing each ball on its merit and when a loose ball came around, he punished it with his brand of felicitous shots.
In the second innings, it was more of a case of Sangakkara showing his warrior-like competitive spirit. Anderson tried everything; including bowling from around the wicket, but Sangakkara was stoic in his defence. Yes, he finally succumbed to the wily pacer, but if it wasn’t for Sangakkara exhibiting tremendous courage on the final day, Sri Lanka would have lost. As other Sri Lankan batsmen including Mahela Jayawardene struggled with short stuff, Sangakkara was an epitome of rhythmic perfection on the back-foot.
Sangakkara has more than 11,000 runs to his name in Tests. He averages 58.55 as a batsman which is a stunning achievement. It is never easy to maintain consistency over 123 Tests. Sangakkara is also one of the few Sri Lankan batsmen to have done well away from home, as he averages 52.77.
Kumar Sangakkara is one of those cricketers, who has got better with age. At 36, he is in the form of his life, as in his last five innings, he has accumulated 707 runs which includes a triple century. Sangakkara, who took confident strides at the age of just 22 in his very first Test against South Africa at Durban with a gritty innings has certainly gone onto fulfil his potential and become one of the greats of the game. One can only wish that Sangakkara can continue on his magical sojourn for a few more years to come.
(Bharath Ramaraj, an MBA in marketing, eats, drinks and sleeps cricket. He has played at school and college-level, and now channelises his passion for the game by writing about it)
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