Bangladesh v SL, 2nd Test, Chittagong, 2nd day February 5, 2014

Sangakkara thankful to Sri Lanka's inner sanctum


Understated goes firmly with Kumar Sangakkara, and it was no different in his celebrations after his maiden Test triple-century, against Bangladesh in Chittagong. A cake was cut in the dressing room just before the team boarded the bus to the hotel. His long-time friend Mahela Jayawardene fed him the first piece and beforehand, he paid tribute to the environment in the Sri Lankan inner sanctum as well as his intensity in the younger days.

"I don't think there is a big secret," Sangakkara said. "I think it has mostly been a lot of hard work in the nets, trying to learn as much as I can every time I play, not losing my positive intent to score, trying to stay one step ahead of the opposition. A lot of throwdowns, batting in the nets and thinking a bit about my own batting."

"The environment in our dressing-room had a lot of room for improvement. We have always pushed each other really hard, not just in skills but also in fitness and strength levels. That kind of motivation and confidence from the rest of the group has really helped me. So we have had a lot of inspiration, form Aravinda de Silva and Sanath Jayasuriya, so I was lucky to grow up in that environment."

Sangakkara reminisced his first substantial innings, against South Africa in early 2001, as probably closest to being his most favourite knock. Sri Lanka were following on after a poor first innings, and Sangakkara was promoted by Jayasuriya to open the batting with Marvan Atapattu. He made 98 in five and a half hours, the entire length of the second innings as he was the last man to be dismissed.

"A really good innings doesn't necessarily mean the number of runs you have scored. I always go back to my 98 in South Africa in my first ever away tour. That was when I thought I could play Test cricket.

"Until that time, I wasn't really sure if I could belong and compete, but that innings changed how I looked at myself and it really taught me what it takes to be a Test player. I think that innings set the foundation for what has happened since then."

There are fundamental differences between his knock in Centurion and the 319 in Chittagong exactly thirteen years later. Back then, it was against the battery of Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock, Makhaya Ntini and Jacques Kallis. Here it was a more comfortable setting, on a flat deck with plenty of scoring options and against a bowling attack that had one seamer, two spinners and plenty of part-timers.

But like playing on any wicket, Sangakkara assessed the surface quickly and decided they had to be patient. "It was a case of first getting used to the pace of the wicket," he said. "It was kind of a difficult wicket to get used to. The fields were quite a bit defensive, so it was hard to keep rotating the strike as easily as we thought we could.

"If there had been a bit more pace we could have penetrated the field, but without that it was just a waiting game. When I really got set it was a case of trying to dominate. When I really tried to go over the field I wanted to do that. But if I had the opportunity to rotate the strike I would do that. So it was a case of continuously trying to score runs and having a positive intent."

What set up the big score in the first innings was Sangakkara's 178-run third-wicket stand with Jayawardene on the first day. The pair is currently fourth on the list of all-time batting partnerships in Test cricket and Sangakkara feels that they bat almost similarly which helps their chemistry.

"I think we bat pretty much the same, I think we feed off quite well, in sense of attack and defense," he said. "I think we read each other well, when one goes at the bowling, the other rotates and vice versa so it is good to have that kind of rapport and understanding.

"It really helps you out there to build partnerships, and I think that's something that all batsmen should work towards. It's really important to have that because the feedback that you get in the middle helps you kick off in that particular innings."

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on February 6, 2014, 18:45 GMT

    Good point Metro-ant. I just took a look at his stats and I never realised that he has only scored two centuries overseas since IPL. One on that Cardiff flat track where they choked in the 2nd innings and the second was on that asian like wicket in Durban. No way on earth could you put him among the greats. Taking into account that almost 1/5 of his runs (2077) have been scored against Bangladesh and if you include Windies and Zimbabwe that is well over a quarter which would make him average 82.11 collectively among those 3 teams. When was the last time he won a man of the series award outside of the middle east and asia? Never. Or how about a MOTM outside of Asia? Zero.

  • Johnathon on February 6, 2014, 7:44 GMT

    @Metro-Ant, Zip your lip then cause 2 years ago, Sri Lanka won their first test in South Africa when Sanga score a century on their ground. This was against the likes of Steyn, Morkel, and De Lange (De Lange took 7 wickets btw). He also saved a match in the last tour of England by scoring a century (incidentally right after he made his Cowdrey Speech)

  • Shamalka on February 6, 2014, 3:46 GMT

    As a fan you have got only 2 options - Either you love Sanga's batting or you hate Cricket.

  • Dummy4 on February 5, 2014, 23:58 GMT

    @Metro-ant were you living under a rock when Sanga made a match winning hundred against SA in durban?

  • Rajinda on February 5, 2014, 23:14 GMT

    @Blade-Runner: Well said bro! You thumped the "ant" with that, just like it's supposed to! Luv it!

  • Ranil on February 5, 2014, 21:18 GMT

    Hats off to Sanga & his glorious innings will give more strength to the SLC at the ICC. Having skipped the IPL this year he is in the ideal form to conjure up a series win here.

  • sanjeewa on February 5, 2014, 19:06 GMT

    thanks sanga,truly wonderful inngs.we love you srilankan master.hats off to you and srilankan loins,for your hard work you deserved this.looking forward to see all the loins in england summer,,,,,,...

  • Dru on February 5, 2014, 19:05 GMT

    A true legend of the game and congrats to Sanga. What a star and what a record that keeps growing. Is there a better cover drive in the world, is there a better flick ont eh leg side in the world. Sanga is poetry in motion at the wicket and looking forward to more.

  • Rizwan on February 5, 2014, 18:58 GMT

    Sri Lanka has been hamstrung because we are a small nation- For a long time , none of the major test nations offered the country a 3 test series

    Also , the schedule has always been unfavourable- Whenever Sri Lanka plays England , its ALWAYS in early summer when its nippy/chilly and the ball swings much more than the latter part when batting is a lot easier - In this regard , India ALWAYS tours in July / August when the mercury touches the high 20s and the Sun is shining until even 8 P.M. which makes it easier to bat.

    Sri Lanka also has been forced to play in venues such Tasmania ( which is much cooler than the rest of Australia) and other grounds which host a test for the first time

  • Tony on February 5, 2014, 18:46 GMT

    Give me a break, it was against Bangladesh. When was the last time Sri Lanka won a test series against a decent opposition? The reason why Clarkey or Alastair Cook have never got a double century against them is because they never send their best team out there unlike Sri Lanka who I bet fight to be on that plane to Dhaka to pump up their averages on the flat tracks there. I miss the Sanga before IPL. I'll zip the lip when he can score a match winning century against a team like South Africa or England on their home grounds, until then I guess every one will be calling him a legend scoring on flat tracks. Now Allan Border got the opportunity to play Bangladesh, well....

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