SA v SL, World Cup 2015, 1st quarter-final, Sydney March 18, 2015

Sangakkara rues being undone by spin

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Kumar Sangakkara was unhappy with Sri Lanka's capitulation to South Africa's spinners in the quarter-final at the SCG. JP Duminy, who picked up a hat-trick, and Imran Tahir, who finished with 4 for 26, ensured the early pressure did not dissipate and helped bowl Sri Lanka out for 133.

Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Kyle Abbott had been able to move the ball at pace and unsettle the batsmen, as Sri Lanka reached 47 for 2 in the 15th over when spin was brought on. Only three overs had cost more than five runs until then, and South Africa had bowled four maidens too.

Sangakkara, playing what became his final ODI innings, had attempted to hold his end up in the hopes of attacking later on. But he was the ninth man out for 45 off 96 deliveries as Duminy and Tahir were just as good in strangling the runs and forcing batsmen to make mistakes.

"The most disappointing thing was that we lost seven wickets to spin when South Africa have a pace-dominant attack," he said, "But that's the way quarter-finals go and if you're not good enough you are disappointed at the end. The wicket probably helped because it was a bit two paced at the start, but we should be disappointed with ourselves the way we played because we just weren't good enough to get the 250, 260-run score that would have really been difficult to chase on that track."

"A lot of people around the world who've been watching must be as disappointed as we are. We've got to put our hands up and say we weren't good enough on the day, but the boys tried their best and they can be proud"

Along with Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene was also retiring from one-day cricket and unlike the last World T20, they were unable to grab a trophy on their way out.

"He'll be terribly disappointed, but that's part and parcel of the game. You can't have everything. There are no fairy-tale endings, you want it to be that good, but if it isn't, it isn't. No matter how much you want to win a World Cup or you want to end on a high, if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen and that doesn't mean you have to walk away disappointed."

"The most disappointing thing was that we lost seven wickets to spin when South Africa have a pace-dominant attack" © Getty Images

The Sangakkara-Jayawardene combination has lasted 15 years and the two batsmen have the second-most prolific partnership in ODIs. A part of their success was down to their chemistry.

"When I got into the side, Mahela was two years into playing. I think he was the vice-captain of the side and he was already looked up to. For someone so young, he had a lot of respect in the dressing room. When I walked in, we were the same age. We hung out together, went for dinner together and that's how we became fast friends.

"It was great to bat with him because he was always looking to dominate and you could slip under the radar and just coast along. We always knew [how each other plays]. He'd take a back seat and I'd take over sometimes and it's been an absolute privilege playing with him. Along with Aravinda de Silva, I think Mahela has been an exceptional player for Sri Lanka who's scored a lot of runs. He's made a hundred in a lot of victories, and he's given a lot on and off the field to the country."

There were the odd occasions when the sparks would fly, Sangakkara said, but there would be some satisfaction in stepping away from the game as well. "It was always friendly, there was never any rivalry between the two, other than when we played warm-up games. Then, that was highly competitive.

"But also, sometimes there is a bit of relief when your career ends. The high-pressure situations, the warm-ups, the ice baths, the recovery sessions - all of that, all repeated over 16, 17 years can get a bit much."

Sangakkara will continue to play Tests, most likely until August this year, but said that the team would continue to thrive without him, under Angelo Mathews' leadership. "I definitely think the team is in a better place than when I started. If you take some of the younger players, if I can compare myself to them at the same age, I think these guys are quite a ways ahead of where I was. That's quite exciting.

"There's no secret to playing good cricket. It's making the best use of your talent, working as hard as you can in the nets, and then making the right decisions out in the middle. I definitely think Sri Lankan cricket has progressed leaps and bounds, and I have no fear about the future of Sri Lankan cricket. I think our guys will do very, very well."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Chatty on March 22, 2015, 0:50 GMT

    To those who say Tharanga will have made a difference, I say, no way! Thranga struggles to move his feet early on and in Aus/NZ he does not have the technique to open. He could have done well coming in around 2 or 3 down. But those places were taken by Mahela and Mathews. So, he could not contribute. That is why he was neglected. I think with Sanga and Mahela gone, Tharanga will be back in contention. The mistake that the selectors did was to change the whole set up for the QF's. That was totally stupid. To ask a man who never opened in the WC (Kusal) to open in the biggest game of the tournament was totally a left field decision and did not make sense at all. Selectors messed up big time. But I have a feeling that even senior players like Mahela and Sanga wanted that. I have great respect to them as players. But, they are no right all the time. Far from it, in fact. It is a good lesson for Sri Lanka cricket.

  • Pawan on March 19, 2015, 15:42 GMT

    The following contrasting piece of stats alone would prove the absolute reality & says the long story, in short..!!!

    2011 - WC QF : SL Openers:

    1) WU Tharanga - Not Out -102* runs - SR 83.60 - 12 x 4 - 1 x 6

    2) TM Dilshan - Not Out - 108* runs - SR 93.91 - 10 x 4 - 2 x 6

    2015 - WC QF - SL Openers:

    1) KUSAL Perera - 3 RUNS - 10 BALLS - SR 30.00 - 4 x 0 - 6 x 0

    2) TM Dilshan - 0 runs - 7 balls - SR 00.00 - 0 x 4 - 0 x 6

    Batting was SL Strength, but SL selectors left out the 3rd MOST Productive Batsmen in Global Competitions,( WU Tharanga: 26 innings = 20 WC+ 6 CT - 1013 Runs - 75.78 SR - 42.20 Av - 4 x 100 - 5 x 50), They preferred Kusal Perera & Thisara Perera (constant failures) over Upul Tharanga, as repeatedly done during the past couple of years. Now Sanga & Mahela are gone, only Tharanga (30Y) left with ample experience (176 Odis-5,000+ run/ 13x100-28x50) among the young to carry forward in to the future!

  • Dummy4 on March 19, 2015, 13:38 GMT

    I think you owe the title of legend with SRT and Kallis

  • Sanjeev on March 19, 2015, 12:16 GMT

    Jaya was good but sanga was best overseas . I would rate ponting lara inzy sanga hayden gilchrist equally of my generation. They were impact players

  • Iraj on March 19, 2015, 8:59 GMT

    Well done Sanga. Just forget it & we need you to focus for Test cricket for the moment. Anyway, hope you could help to groom the young batsmen who doesn't have technique, instinct, courage and patience to match your hard earned legendary career. Good cricketers must groom another good ones to fill the void after they leave. Hope you could help the youngsters much more in the coming days, specially in test cricket.

  • Nihal on March 19, 2015, 5:11 GMT

    With all the disappointment of SL's meek showing against SA we all forgot the end of two hugely successful one-day careers. Brilliantly done Sanga and Mahela you two are definitely cricketing legends.

  • Dummy4 on March 19, 2015, 4:07 GMT

    Well done Sanga! Considering your form, it's true people will be asking, Why?

  • Milroy on March 19, 2015, 3:08 GMT

    I don't understand why every time some other player emerge as a great player all this tendulkar band wagon jump in with "yeah but Tendulkar is greater he had average of blah blah" No one is denying SRT his rightful place. Yes Tendulkar is a Legend and Truly an amazing player the whole world knows that including US president who knows absolutely nothing about cricket. But SRT is not the only Great player Cricket has produced. There are many many cricket Legends in the past, present and future will be partake in this great game so stop been a one dimensional fool and turn a blind eye to every other player who has done enough to be called along the lines Great player or Legend.

  • rajan on March 19, 2015, 2:55 GMT

    Well played Sanga and Mahela !!

    Loved watching both --great technique at which the young players can learn from and would look forward to see Sangakara in the test series this year.

    All the best!!

  • associate cricket fan on March 19, 2015, 2:53 GMT

    Sanga scored 4 centuries in a row. It will be foolish to expect him to score 100s in every game. He is also a human, so its possible for anyone to make mistake.

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