Sangakkara breaks jinx, and Lord's run-fests
In six Test innings at Lord's before this game, Kumar Sangakkara had managed an aggregate of 140 runs, with a highest of 65. Given that this would almost certainly be his last Test here, he was on course to join a heady list of top-notch overseas batsmen who couldn't solve the Lord's puzzle: among them were Ricky Ponting, Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara, Jacques Kallis, VVS Laxman, Aravinda de Silva, Sunil Gavaskar, Javed Miandad, Zaheer Abbas, and several others. (Click here for a full list of overseas players who played at least three Tests at Lord's and didn't score a century.) Some of these players have very poor records at this ground: Miandad scored 63 in six innings, Kallis 54 in five, Ponting 135 in eight, Lara 126 in six, Tendulkar 195 in nine innings, while de Silva managed 188 in seven.
Sangakkara's Lord's stats weren't as dire as some of those numbers, but the average was well below his career average of 58.80 (before this Test). However, coming into this game, Sangakkara had already experienced the feeling of scoring a century here in an international game - he made 112 in the fourth ODI a couple of weeks back - and he started this innings as if he was merely continuing from 112. The first ball he faced was clipped through midwicket for four, and from there he hardly ever looked like getting out. His control percentage over the entire innings was 91.5%, which indicates he hardly played a false stroke. (By way of comparison, Joe Root's control factor was 85% when he scored his double-century, and Kaushal Silva's was 80%.)
Given Sangakkara's form over the last couple of years, it isn't a surprise that he has cashed in on the opportunity to get a big one at Lord's. In the last two years - since June 2012 - Sangakkara has scored 1916 runs in 15 Tests, at an average of 87.09, with eight centuries; the only other batsman averaging more than 70 during this period is Shivnarine Chanderpaul (79.76).
|Kumar Sangakkara||15||1916||87.09||8/ 7|
|Shivnarine Chanderpaul||12||1037||79.76||4/ 2|
|Hashim Amla||17||1750||67.30||7/ 4|
|Cheteshwar Pujara||16||1543||67.08||6/ 3|
|AB de Villiers||18||1711||63.37||6/ 6|
|Michael Clarke||22||2143||61.22||8/ 5|
|Angelo Mathews||16||1168||58.40||1/ 7|
During the course of his magnificent century, Sangakkara shared a century stand with a close friend, and a batsman who has always done well at Lord's. Mahela Jayawardene passed 50 for the fourth time in seven Test innings at Lord's - of which he has converted two into hundreds - and he averages 71.66 here. Only seven overseas batsmen have scored more Test runs at Lord's than Jayawardene.
The 126-run stand between them lifted their partnership aggregate to 6115, which is the third-highest on the all-time Test list, after Dravid-Tendulkar (6920) and Greenidge-Haynes (6482). They went past Hayden-Langer (6081) during the course of this partnership. This was also their 17th century stand, which is second only to 20 by Tendulkar and Dravid.
With Angelo Mathews getting a half-century as well, Sri Lanka have four batsmen who've topped 50 in this innings, a feat they've accomplished only six times in Tests outside Asia. Of these six instances when they've had four or more 50-plus scores in an innings, three have been at Lord's (the others here were in 2002 and 2006) and four in England. Overall, Sri Lanka's batsmen have averaged 37.90 in Lord's Tests over the years, the second-highest among all venues outside Asia where they've played at least two Tests; only in Bulawayo have they averaged more.
With England scoring 575 for 9 and Sri Lanka 415 for 7, this Test match so far has been a run-fest: 944 runs have been scored off the bat for the loss of 16 wickets, an average of 59 runs per wicket. That average will hopefully reduce over the next couple of days, but at the moment, that's the highest average ever in a Lord's Test.
S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. @rajeshstats