Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri lead Indian tribute to Kumar Sangakkara ahead of his farewell Test
Indian Test skipper Virat Kohli and team director Ravi Shastri has showered praise on Sri Lankan veteran batsman Kumar Sangakkara who will retire after the 2nd Test match between India and Sri Lanka, BCCI.TV reports. While Shastri compared Sangakkara to Sachin Tendulkar, Kohli said that the left-handed batsman’s statistics speaks for themselves.
India suffered an embarrassing defeat at the hands of the Sri Lankans as they were defeated by 63 runs in the first Test match at The Galle, Sangakkara’s home stadium. The 37-year-old will call time on his Test career after the 2nd Test which begins on August 20 and Kohli said it was an honour to be playing against Sangakkara in his final few matches.
“I am sure if a guy who is retiring from the game, I cannot connect to it but I can imagine the kind of emotions he might feel because this is something that he has probably done for the last 20 years day in and day out of everyday life. And, not to do that anymore would be a big shock for anyone,” Kohli said. “He has been a wonderful player for Sri Lanka. A lot of left-handers really look up to him for the way he plays. His technique and the way he has scored runs all over the world, his numbers speak for themselves.”
“He is a wonderful human being. He is a lovely person. I have had quite a few chats with him on the field & away from the field as well. I am actually glad that he is going to be playing his last few games against us because it is a special occasion for us to be a part of. Such a legend of the game retiring, as a young side it will be an honour for us to give him that respect in his last few Tests.”
Kohli jokingly suggested however that he hoped Sangakkara’s final outing is not as memorable as his penultimate match.
“Hopefully, he doesn’t score too many runs against us but I really wish him all the luck with his life after cricket. It has been wonderful to know such a great player and a great man,” Virat said.
Ravi Shastri compares Sangakkara to Sachin Tendulkar and Sir Donald Bradman
Ravi Shastri feels that Sangakkara is one of the best batsmen to have played the game and paid the ultimate tribute by comparing him to the other true greats – Sachin Tendulkar and Sir Donald Bradman.
“I saw him from his first game,” Shastri said. “I was commentating on that game when he played and he is still around. He broke into being one of the top two or three players and he never got out of that. There might have been a one year or a six-month period where his form might have dipped. But otherwise, for sheer consistency, he is unmatched,” he said.
“There are very few players who fall in that list. You can bring Sachin Tendulkar in that league as the kind of player that once broke into the top two or three never moved out of there. Sangakkara’s record shows you that. He has got runs world over and scored double hundreds like it is a pass time. He is equal with Sir Donald Bradman.”
He further elaborated on Sangakkara's true abilities as a batting great.
“His ability to adapt and concentrate and his ability to bat for long periods of time. He had a wide range of shots, understood his game well and obviously worked as hard as any you would get. Also, his simple ability to assess the conditions very quickly, be it England, Australia, South Africa, West Indies or Colombo made him very special,” Shastri said.
“He would either open or bat at No.3 which is one of the toughest positions to bat. He would just pile on the runs. He had the ability to switch gears. When the conditions were bowler friendly, he would dig deep with his technique. The moment the conditions got batsmen friendly, he would turn it on.”
“Hence, he had those abilities to get those double hundreds. The moment he was batting with the tail, he might have been batting on 120 by then with three wickets in hand. Suddenly you had him batting on 200 because he knew who to target. He was a master of managing his own game and a truly great player.”
Shastri also praised Sangakkara for playing the game in the right spirit.
“We love Sanga for the way he has entertained and he has been a fantastic ambassador for the game of cricket. That is a legacy that he will leave behind. I think every Sri Lankan should be proud of what he has achieved not just personally but the way he has conducted himself in going round the world as an international cricketer. You can call him as one of the statesmen of the modern game,” Shastri said.