Kumar Sangakkara's Test career in pictures
Thank You Sanga!Kumar Sangakkara’s international career came to an end at Colombo on Monday, with the culmination of the second Test against India. Sri Lanka’s greatest ever batsman failed to produce one final epic knock to save his side from defeat as he has so often done in the past, but that will not take any shine away from this elegant batsman’s glorious Test career.The 37-year-olds signs off from the Test arena as the fifth highest run-getter in history but is at the top of the pile when it comes to left handed batsmen. His 38 Test tons puts him fourth spot overall and 11 of them has been double centuries, only one behind the legendary Sir Donald Bradman. Muttiah Muralitharan, who was pipped by the wicketkeeper-batsman in a recent poll conducted to determine Sri Lanka’s greatest ever crickleter, had this to say about his fellow Kandy-born cricketer: "One of the biggest things that the team will miss is his leadership qualities. Even when he was not the captain, the team looked up to him for advice. Then there is his batting. I feel there was no better No. 3 batsman in the game.”The statistics certainly back Murali’s views. He has scored the most number of Test runs batting at the crucial No 3 spot, while he is only behind, again, Sir Donald Bradman in the batting average as captain of the side (minimum 2000 runs). So Ravi Shastri’s claim that Sangakkara is equal to the ‘Don’ is also not without merit. Yet for all of the praise bestowed upon Sanga, still the feeling persists that he has not gotten his real due. 12,400 runs from just 134 Tests at an average of 57.40 – he was the fastest batsman in terms of innings required to reach 8,000, 9,000, 10,00 (joint), 11,000 and 12,000 runs in Test cricket. It was a true privilege to see this maestro in action.Here’s a look back at some of the most memorable moments from Sangakkara’s Test career.
#1 98 against South Africa, Centurion, 2001
Kumar Sangakkara’s Test career got off of to a tough start with his first six Tests coming against South Africa, in a three-match series home and then away. In the thrid Test at the Centurion, the visitors were bundled out cheaply for 119 in their first innings, in reply to the Proteas total of 378. Asked to follow on, the visitors made a change in ther batting line-up with skipper Sanath Jayasuriya opting to step down to the No 6 spot, thus forcing Sangakkara to open the innings.
Playing in just his sixth Test, Sangakkara delivered against the bowling attack comprising of Shaun Pollock, Makhaya Ntini and Allan Donald scoring a defiant 98 spending clsoe to 330 minutes at the crease. He couldn’t steer Sri Lanka clear of an innings defeat, but that innings truly announced the arrival of Sangakkara as stated by his close friend Mahela Jayawardene recently.
“That knock in South Africa - that first 90-odd he scored - really gave him the confidence to know that he belonged,” Jayawardene said.
#2 First Test century, vs India, Galle, 2001
Having missed out on a century against South Africa, Sangakkara got dismissed in the 90s yet again playing against England at home. The wait for his first three figure knock finally came to an end against India just two Tests later.
Sangakkara, playing his tenth Test match, made a patient 105 in the first Test of the series at Galle and along with Sanath Jayasurya, literally batted the visitors out of the game setting up Sri Lanka for a 10-wicket win. The hosts went on to win the three-match series 2-1.
#3 230 vs Pakistan, 2001-02 Asian Test Championship Final, Lahore
Sangakkara notched up the first of his 11 double centuries against Pakistan in the final of the Asian Test Championship, 2001-02. With the match being played at Lahore, Pakistan were considered the favourites heading into the match, but Sangakkara clearly had other ideas.
After Pakistan were dismissed for 234, Sri Lanka got their innings to the worst possible start losing Marvan Atapattu with no runs on the board. Up stepped Sangakkara, and along with Jayasurya set about smashing the Pakistani bowlers. Sangakkara’s knock of 230 came in just 327 balls and helped Sri Lanka post a total of 528, which all but sealed the victory for his side. With the Man of the Match in the final, Sangakkara was establishing himself as a big match player.
#4 232 vs South Africa, Colombo, 2004
After that knock against Pakistan, Sangakkara endured a barren run of form with his only Test century in the next 21 Tests coming against Zimbabwe. With question marks being raised about his continuation in the side, Sangakkara yet again chose South Africa to do his talking with the bat.
In the second Test match at Colombo, batting first the hosts piled up a total of 470, thanks to a brilliant 232 by Sangakkara. It was a stroke-filled innings with as many as 31 boundaries and he continued his fine form in the second innings as well scoring a quickfire 64 off just 58 balls to help his side beat the Proteas by a mammoth 313 run margin. Sri Lanka thus won the two-match series 1-0.
#5 157 vs West Indies, Kandy, 2005
Sangakkara proved in 2005 why he was an unique batsman in the 2nd Test match against the visiting West Indies side. The pitch was turning out to be the batsmen’s graveyard with both teams struggling to put on a decent total. After the hosts were dismissed for 150, West Indies couldn't, even muster a lead getting dismissed for 148.
With the game expected to proceed along the same lines, Sangakkara produced a magical knock of 157 of 284 balls remaining unbeaten when Sri Lanka declared their innings at 375/7. No other batsman managed to cross the 50 run mark and Sangakkara expectedly picked up the Man of the Match award.
#6 287 vs South Africa, Colombo, 2006
Sangakkara was making a habit of saving his best for South Africa. The Proteas had a tour to forget, losing both the Test matches in the series, and the seeds were sowed in the first Test match at Colombo, where close friends Sangakkara and Jayawardene shattered the confidence of the visitors.
South Africa were dismissed cheaply for 169 having opted to bat first after winning the toss. The hosts didn’t start much better having lost both openers with the score at 14 and Sangakkara was joined in the middle by Jayawardene. What followed was something truly remarkable. The pair put on 624 runs for the third wicket, which still holds the world record for the highest partnership in Tests for any wicket. They toiled with the South African bowling attack and batted the entire second day without losing a wicket.
Sangakkara made 287 and his partner 374 as they batted the visitors out of the game. They won the game by an innings and 153 runs.
#7 192 vs Australia, Hobart, 2007
Sangakkara was in a rich vein of form heading into the one-off Test match against Australia at Hobart in 2007. He had scored five centuries in his last five Tests and he went on to make two more in his next two appearances including the brilliant 192 against the world’s best team, which almost gave Sri Lanka a highly unlikely win.
The visitors could only post 246 in reply to Australia’s mammoth total of 542 in their first innings. Jayawardene made 104 while Sangakkara made a decent 57. The hosts opted against enforcing the follow-on and eventually set Sri Lanka a target of 507.
Marvan Atapattu led the initial fightback with an innings of 80, but when he and Jayawardene were dismissed on back-to-back deliveries, their fortunes looked all but doomed. But Sangakkara was not going to give up with a fight and he battled on despite losing wickets at the other end. He was the ninth wicket to go down after making 192 as the visitors eventually fell short by 96 runs.
“One of the special ones was the hundred he scored against Australia in Hobart when we almost won that game from nowhere,” Jayawardene said about the innings.
#8 199 vs Pakistan, Galle, 2012
Sangakkara won the ICC Cricketer of the Year award in 2012 and it was Pakistan who was at the receiving end of Sangakkara’s tremendous form during that period. His first Man of the Series award came against their Asian counterparts in Pakistan’s home series staged in the UAE. He scored 516 runs in the three-match series and carried on with the form back home as well.
In the first Test at the Galle, Sangakkara and Tillekaratne Dilshan piled on the runs for Sri Lanka in tough conditions agaisnt a Pakistani side which had Saeed Ajmal at the peak of his prowess. Dilshan made 101, but Sangakkara carried on making 199 and remained undefeated as he ran out of partners.
He got out in the 190s yet again in the second Test, but with 490 runs in three Tests, he picked up his second Man of the Series award in the space of eight months, having waited close to a decade since his debut for picking up his first.
#9 319 vs Bangladesh, Chittagong, 2014
Sangakkara’s first and only triple century came against Bangladesh in 2014 and it was special in more wasy than one. He beat the likes of big-hitting batsmen, Sanath Jayasurya and Virender Sehwag at their own game during the course of the mammoth innings.
Sanagakkra reach the 300 run mark with a four, six and another six, becoming only the second player after Sehwag to reach the triple century with a hit over the ropes. In total, he hit eight sixes, beating Jayasurya’s record of most maximums in a Test innings.
Sangakkara scored 105 in the second innings thus becoming only the second cricketer after Graham Gooch to score a triple century and a century in the same Test match.
#10 Test retirement
Sangakkara retired from T20 cricket after top scoring in the final against India and helped Sri Lanka clinch the 2014 World Twenty20. He made his ODI farewell memorable as well making four centuries in a row at the 2015 ICC World Cup, the first player to do so in the quadrennial tournament.
Despite numerous appeals to delay his retirement plans, Sangakkara decided to call time on his international career after the second Test against India. Though his final Test didn’t pan out as he would have hoped for, the Sri Lankan team was able to give him a fitting send-off at his favourite ground where some of his most memorable innings have come, the Galle.
The hosts pulled off a dramatic victory that would have delighted Sangakkara no doubt. He has hinted that he would carry on playing domestic cricket in England and how glad are we that we can still see this true gentleman in action for quite some time more.