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Kumar Sangakkara
by CricketArchive Staff Reporter


Player:KC Sangakkara

DateLine: 28th April 2009

 

Within months of breaking into the side at 22, Kumar Sangakkara became one of Sri Lanka's most influential players: a highly talented left-handed strokemaker, a slick wicketkeeper, a sharp-eyed strategist and an even sharper-tongued sledger, capable of riling even the most unflappable characters. His arrival was relatively unexpected, for his domestic performances were relatively modest, but the selectors' judgement was immediately justified as he starred in his first tournament, the Singer Series 2000 against South Africa and Pakistan, as a wicketkeeper-cum-batsman.

 

During the early days his wicketkeeping could be ragged at times, but his effortless batting oozed class from the start. He possesses the grace of David Gower but the attitude of an Australian. His approach is naturally aggressive and his greatest weakness is a capacity to over-react when the adrenaline really starts to pump. At the outset he was happier on the back foot but a fierce work ethic and a deep interest in the theory of batsmanship helped him round off his game, and he is now as comfortable driving through the covers as cutting behind point. His arrival was bad news for the popular Romesh Kaluwitharana.

 

Sangakkara’s arrival also helped solve the long-term search for a No. 3 batsman to fill the void left since the retirement of Asanka Gurusinha. The exhausting dual responsibility of batting at No. 3 and keeping wicket is the source of widespread debate and the selectors relieved him of the gloves in one-day cricket after the 2003 World Cup. The change increased his productivity as a batsman but left the team unbalanced and he was handed back the wicketkeeping duties during Australia's tour in 2003-04. A charismatic personality and an astute thinker - he is training to be a lawyer between tours - Sangakarra was tipped as a future captain, a distinction that came his way once Mahela Jayawardene decided to sign out.

 

Sangakkara was rewarded for his consistent performances with a spot in the ICC World XI for the Super Series one-day matches in October 2005, but was surprisingly overlooked for the Test squad. However, his form has remained superbly consistent for Sri Lanka and he reached new heights in July 2006 when he added a world record 624 for the third wicket, against South Africa at Colombo, and his share was 287. He followed that with back-to-back centuries on tour in New Zealand, twin unbeaten double-centuries against Bangladesh, and a glorious 192 in defeat against Australia, to confirm his standing among the best wicketkeeper-batsmen of all time. He then anchored Sri Lanka's victorious 2008 Asia Cup campaign with three centuries. Perhaps his most exemplary innings under pressure was the 59 off 133 balls in the tri-series final in Mirpur in 2009 to help Sri Lanka break out of jail at 6 for 5.

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