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Statistical comparison: Sachin Tendulkar vs Kumar Sangakkara

59.88K   //    27 Jun 2015, 17:43 IST
sachin vs sanga
Who is the better batsman?

‘The Gentleman’s game’ has evolved through multiple decades as new aggressive shorter formats are widely played today. Despite the ways in which the game has evolved, test cricket still stands out as a testimony to the entire game, bringing out the sport’s true essence. The cricketing universe has seen many greats cherish in the white flannels while only a few have donned it.

Ever since the great Don’s retirement, the world had not seen another such player until Sachin Tendulkar entered the game. More players added their definitions to the sport and Kumar Sangakkara is one of the most admired players among them. Sachin, Sanga, Ponting, Inzamam, Dravid, Lara, Chanderpaul, Kallis, Warne, Murali, Kumble and many more have added glory to the longer format but there has always been a quiz and fuss about the best batsman of this era and it has narrowed down to a debate over Sachin vs Sangakkara.

With an impressive run in Tests, both Sachin and Sanga have redefined modern day cricket. Sachin’s perfect stance, steady head, focused eyes and perfect stroke play that shoots the ball to the boundary shall always be missed. Ever since Sachin’s retirement, the spotlight has been on Kumar Sangakkara, who has been enjoying a purple patch over the past few years. This made way to heated arguments that have quietly grown like a snowball and the recent poll by cricket Australia, in which Sachin has been voted the best player for the century, has just spiced it up.

It is high time we clear some things out and so, here I present a detailed analysis on the performance of both these veterans in the Test arena.

Sachin in Tests
Player Matches Runs Average HS 100s 50s
Sachin Tendulkar 200 15921 53.78 248* 51 68

Sangakkara, on the other hand is also one of the greatest ambassadors of the game without a trace of doubt. The silent killer of Sri Lanka has steadily moved up the ranks to seat himself comfortably as one of the bests, raising many eyebrows that made him get considered as the best today. Among the current Test batsmen, it is only Sanga’s legacy that stands above all. 

Sanga in Tests
Player Matches Runs Average HS 100s 50s
Kumar Sangakkara 131 12271 58.43 319 38 52

Overall, Sachin’s run numbers show his dominance but his average did take a dip towards the end of his career. After scoring his 51st Test ton, the decline started and since then, he ended up with an average of 32.34 until his retirement. Sachin averaged 56.94 before his decline began. Sanga, on the other hand has a consistent, mind-boggling average of over 58. Since Sachin’s retirement he has been scoring with a jaw-dropping average of 67.37, but it is important to inspect their performance in an extensive way.

A player’s temperament is made to face the toughest tests and is judged based on those performances. The game has seen many players who have been masters at home but failures overseas. On a parallel road, there are players who travel at a constant speed in both the lanes. Let’s have a look at their performances both at home and away.

Home stats
Player Matches Runs Average 100s\50s
Sachin Tendulkar 94 7216 52.67 22/32
Kumar Sangakkara 73 6735 62.36 22/25

Overseas stats
Player Matches Runs  Average 100s\50s
Sachin Tendulkar 106 8705 54.74 29/36
Kumar Sangakkara 59 5570 54.70 16/27

Sachin’s average has more or less been consistent at both home and overseas conditions while Sanga’s average has taken a swoop when compared to that of his in home conditions. The ‘Little Master’ averages a little more at overseas than at home, thus proving his consistent dominance. He has played more matches overseas and has still managed to sustain a commendable average.

On the other side, Sanga’s average can never be judged to be a bad one because to maintain an average of 50+ overseas is not a child’s play. But when seen against his numbers at home, there is always a thought that he could have done better to maintain the equilibrium.

To put things in a well-sorted manner, this is how these two have performed against menacing teams in testing cricket grounds.


  Matches Runs Average 100s/50s
Against Australia 39 3630 55.00 11/16
In Australia 20 1809 53.20 6/7

  Matches Runs  Average 100s/50s
Against Australia 11 878 43.90 1/7
In Australia 5 543 60.33 1/5

Australia were undoubtedly one of Sachin’s most favorite opposition and his average against them and his average in their soil portray his stable supremacy over the Kangaroos in all conditions. His average against the Aussies at home is 56.90.

Sanga, on the other hand has an impressive average of 60.33 in Australia from 5 matches while an unexpected decline is seen in his average against the same team at home where he averages just 30.45. Sachin’s trophy cabinet has 5 MOM awards and 3 Man of the series awards against Australia while Sanga’s table reads nil. Clearly, Sachin has proven to be better than Sanga against the mighty World Champions.

New Zealand:

  Matches  Runs Average 100s/50s
Against New Zealand 24 1595 46.91 4/8
In New Zealand  11 842 49.52 2/5


  Matches Runs Average  100s/50s
Against New Zealand 12 887 49.27 4/2
In New Zealand 6 549 61.00 3/0

If it’s Sachin in Australia, it’s Sanga in New Zealand. Sangakkara distinctly ascends both the rows. Sachin’s show in New Zealand has not been bad at all because having an average of 50 makes anyone a good Test player. He has 3 MOM performances to his name while it comes as a surprise as to how Sanga has not managed to win any.

Sanga has played half the number of matches that Sachin has played but holds the same number of centuries, showcasing how well he has hunted the Kiwis. The classy left hander has thus surpassed Sachin with his excellency in the little island nation.


  Matches Runs Average 100s/50s
Against England 32 2535 51.73 7/13
In England 17 1575 54.31 4/8
  Matches Runs Average 100s/50s
Against England 22 1568 40.20 4/8
In England 11 862 41.04 2/5

Sachin’s numbers do the talking here again, dominating England in the game and Sanga as well. The swing-friendly grounds of cricket’s Motherland have not been the perfect abodes for the Sri-Lankan veteran.

In spite of Sanga’s steady average of 40 against England in all conditions, the master’s average outscores that of the former’s. Sachin has 2 Man of the match and 1 Man of the series award against the English while Sanga has only one player of the match award. There used to be a fan’s quote reading,“ Indians owned India. British conquered it. The British owned cricket. But Sachin conquered it” and the above numerals make the statement true.

South Africa:

  Matches Runs Average 100s/50s
Against South Africa 25 1741 42.46 7/5
In South Africa 15 1161 46.44 5/3

  Matches Runs Average 100s/50s
Against South Africa 17 1534 47.93 3/7
In South Africa 8 572 35.75 1/3

It might look evenly poised but Sachin has managed to edge past Sanga with his stats in South Africa. Though Sanga holds the upper hand when it comes to the overall performance against RSA, the little master proves why he is the best when it comes to maintaining the balance between home and abroad.

On fast paced South African pitches, Sachin has a higher average than at home, though the difference is not that big. However, Sanga’s decline in those conditions makes the cut for Sachin to hold the position of power when it comes to South Africa.

Other Nations:

Average in other Test playing Nations
Country Sachin Tendulkar Kumar Sangakkara
Pakistan 40.25 86.87
West Indies 47.69 34.00
Sri Lanka/India 67.94 36.50
Bangladesh 136.66 78.30
Zimbabwe 40.00 140.50

In all the above Test playing nations, it is only in Pakistan and Zimbabwe where Sangakkara has gained a huge lead over Sachin. Both players have played less than 5 matches in Zimbabwe and all matches have been played before 2004. Sanga has a huge double century in one of the two matches he has played in Zimbabwe while Sachin has just 2 fifties in four matches. In the other countries, it is undoubtedly Sachin who forefronts the race.

Sangakkara has managed to perform better than Sachin in a few countries with a considerable difference, but his lack of consistency in home and away conditions comes as a drawback which is what Sachin has mastered. Against all top cricketing nations, Sachin’s equal treatment at home and abroad stands out as a statement that defines his brilliance in the longer format of the game.

Another factor to consider is the fact that Sachin scored against the likes of McGrath, Wasim, Brett Lee, Pollock, Donald, Warne, Murali and the others in his prime, whereas you can only name a handful of bowlers (whom Sanga faced in his prime) who have been as effective as their predecessors. 

Test cricket is all about absorbing the heat in all conditions and playing a strong role. The availability of time gives the player a lot of time to read the conditions well and set himself prepared for a big knock. To put things in a well-spread manner it is Sachin who has done that right and proved himself in all conditions.

Not to forget that Sangakkara is just one short of equalling the Don’s record of scoring the most number of 200’s, he also has a triple hundred to his name which is something Sachin has failed to do in his long career.

Sachin and Sangakkara shall go down as two cricketing legends who will never fade away from fanatics’ hearts and both have portrayed their skills in their own way. But when it comes to the larger picture of deciding who the better one is, it is Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar who wins the contest.

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