Kumar Sangakkara versus India

Sangakkara will be retiring from the sport after the upcoming Test series against India.

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Kumar Sangakkara © Getty Images
Kumar Sangakkara has an average of 57.13 against India © Getty Images

Kumar Sangakkara will play his last Test series against India. Abhishek Mukherjee observes his performances against the big neighbours in his 15-year career.

Consistent to Kumar Sangakkara’s image of a perfectionist, his runs have found ways to flow everywhere, including in England, where he scored a serene hundred last year to help Sri Lanka to a crucial draw. His batting average against the Englishmen improved to 40 after three fifties and a ton; in fact, he was the highest run-getter in the two-Test series with 342 runs from four innings. Admitted, he has played more than half his Tests at home, thus aided by batting-friendly tracks; but his batting average of 58.04, the highest among batsmen having scored more than 8,000 Test runs, indicates his eminence. READ: Kumar Sangakkara confirms retirement after Test series against India

Against India he averages 57.13, but it is only his prolific three-Test series against them in 2010 that got him the good numbers. His 15-year career began with a few jitters before he scored his first century against India in 2001: “I was nervous because I was running out of partners,” he said afterwards, reminiscing his unbeaten 105. India lost that match by ten wickets, eventually suffering a 1-2 defeat. READ: Twitter reacts to Kumar Sangakkara’s retirement

When he faced India again in 2005, he scored 124 runs from five innings with a highest of 41. He succumbed to Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh cheaply in the two Tests as Sri Lanka lost 0-2. But when India reciprocated by arriving in the island three years later, he responded by constructing a match-winning hundred at P Sara Oval to help Sri Lanka gain a handy lead en route to a comfortable, series-clinching win; this was followed by a fifty in Galle, where Virender Sehwag scored an astonishing double-hundred out of India’s 329, mitigating the ubiquitous threat of mystery-spinner Ajantha Mendis for a 170-run win for the visitors. Here, twice he was dismissed by Zaheer Khan. READ: The leading run-getters in Test for each team

At Brabourne Stadium he scored a century, but that contest was dominated by Sehwag’s 293 scored at a strike-rate of 115. But his landmark series against India arrived in the three Tests in the middle of 2010. He was Sri Lanka’s main run-getter with 467 from five innings at 116.75. His double-ton was scored at a run-fattened, drawn game at the SSC. His century contribution in the first Test in Galle was significant, however, in laying the base for Muttiah Muralitharan’s ideal farewell.  READ: A case for Kumar Sangakkara, the pundit

The three times he has got out to Harbhajan and Kumble are understandable considering the nature of tracks in both countries. But Zaheer has claimed him six times in his career in nine matches, including thrice in the middling 2008 series and twice in 2009, suggesting something of vulnerability.

He will not face a left-arm bowler in his final series as a player. And as he has shown in the past year, he will be that much hungrier to sign off on a high, especially after the dramatic loss at home to Pakistan a few weeks ago.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is a reporter with CricketCountry. His Twitter handle is @bhejafryyy)

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