Sri Lanka v India, 2nd Test, SSC, 2nd day July 27, 2010

Batsman Sangakkara remains a stylist

In either liking or hating the captain, the statesman, the keeper with the irritating shouts, we tend to forget the reason why we liked Sangakkara in the first place

For the last year or so we have known the man who repeatedly questions cricket's lopsided scheduling. The man who has perhaps strived to make Australia out of Sri Lanka, and perhaps cutting down on some of the Sri Lankan flair. The man who complains about the inconsistent use of Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS). The man who has had to make bold decisions regarding Sanath Jayasuriya and Chaminda Vaas. The man who keeps saying Ajantha Mendis is not over, and answering questions about life after Murali and Vaas. The man who has become insufferable with his incessant and excessive appealing from behind the stumps, for LBWs that don't exist. The man who made Tillakaratne Dilshan keep wicket in Tests when Prasanna Jayawardene was injured. Somewhere in all that, we tend to forget Kumar Sangakkara the batsman.

In either liking or hating the captain, the statesman, the keeper with the irritating shouts, we tend to forget the reason why we liked Sangakkara in the first place. His batting has all that grace, style, and also the aggression. The drives still flow beautifully all through the cover field, the whip-flick between mid-on and midwicket that he plays even as he is moving across the stumps is still a joy to watch, the sweeps to all parts of leg side still negate the spinners.

Silently, as a captain, Sangakkara has scored five centuries in 10 Tests, three of them in his last three games against India, the latest being his seventh double-century, putting him behind only Don Bradman and Brian Lara on that count.

When he came in to bat on Monday, on his beloved SSC pitch and against an average attack, a century was there to be taken. Still, how you got there, and how far you took it beyond 100 mattered too. This innings had all the hallmarks of a Sangakkara special. The intent was clear from the first over of his innings: when Pragyan Ojha was slightly short, he was cut away; when he flighted he was lofted over mid-on. From thereon until he was caught by an alert Rahul Dravid - and it's a task to stay alert after you have spent one-and-a-half days without anything remotely resembling an edge - Sangakkara owned the attack.

Even with the deep point in place, India struggled to keep Sangakkara quiet. Though Tharanga Paranavitana was 34 when Sangakkara came out, it wasn't a surprise that he was overtaken. No scoring opportunity was missed. There weren't shots that stood out for audacity, but there weren't any that stood out for being inelegant either. Even as Mahela Jayawardene struggled in the final hour on the first day, Sangakkara kept getting the runs, scoring 34 off 58 in that period.

How he played on the second day, though, was going to determine how well Sri Lanka could time their declaration. The first two balls of the day brought clear indications. Two of his favourite shots got him boundaries: the drive wide of mid-off, and then the whip-flick through midwicket. Five overs later, the same bowler, Abhimanyu Mithun, was hit for three consecutive boundaries. After a relatively quiet spell, he showed Ojha the complete range of sweep shots in one over: slog-sweeps to cow corner and midwicket, and then two regulation ones to square leg and backward square leg. That over took him from 183 to 199.

The platform was set up again, the bowlers had been deflated again, and Jayawardene did the rest. When Sangakkara got out, though, the reaction was of acute dissatisfaction. The double-hundred wasn't nearly enough. The reaction was of a man who has scored seven of them, a man who wants more.

Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • South_Indian on August 3, 2010, 5:24 GMT

    Tendulkar is just hopeless when it comes to "winning test matches" for his side. Sangakkarra is better and Lara was the best.

  • Agnar on July 31, 2010, 16:56 GMT

    Thejana, The most important point I was trying to make was that subcontinent pitches are different and not inferior. Your point that Sanga has skills to deal with different types of pitches is well taken. But why it is accepted without a slightest argument that pitches in England and Australia are superior? Most cricketers of any country do well on their home grounds. Why an Australian player who does better on their grounds than in Sri Lanka or other subcontinent grounds is considered better than a Sri Lankan player who does better on Sri Lnakan grounds than in Australia? Thank you for your response.

  • dummy4fb on July 31, 2010, 0:02 GMT

    @ USMAN NILE The fact you have pointed out is only valid for Jayawardena. You are simply going nowhere regarding Sangakkara. Sangakkara out of his 90 tests has only played 39 tests away and has an avg over 50. His average in aus is over 65 with his memorable 192 in hobart which would have been a double ton very easily inspite of rudy koertzens crappy decision. Sangakkara has 2 centuries in NZ out of 4 matches. In one of them he was 100* from a team total of 160 and in the other 150* odd in a team total of 260. These simply highlight the lack of support he gets from his fellow batsmen in away conditions. Infact he and sachin are the only subcontinent batsmen to average over 39 in south africa.

  • dummy4fb on July 30, 2010, 23:49 GMT

    @ Agnar.. People can put down Mahela with his away sats but you cannot put down Sanga from his away stats.He thrives better outside sub-continent tracks.

  • Agnar on July 29, 2010, 12:54 GMT

    I am sick and tired of reading that subcontinent pitches are inferior to those of England and Australia. Cricket is an international game and not just an Englishman's game anymore. In fact the game now is played in subcontinent more than it is played in England. So if one kind of pitch is favored or considered superior, it should be subcontinent type. Pitches in different countries have different characteristics. To do well on different pitches require different sets of skills and almost all cricketers do better on pitches similar to their home pitches. Nobody is talking about English and Australian cricketers records on away records. If you are a fan from subcontinent trying to put down Sanga and Mahela by pointing to their away records, you should ask yourself what you really are feeling inferior about?

  • satotheend on July 28, 2010, 16:35 GMT

    Why has this suddenly turned into a "who is a better batsman"-row that Indian supprters just LOVE! C'mon guys... What I am thinking about is how you guys should rather worry about your BOWLING attack.. Not your batting. Whats more is that you better enjoy Sehwag, SRT and Dravid while they still play. Maybe when they retire you will be begging for a batsman like Sanga! You can score 900 runs every time but you still need the BOWLERS to perform. It is typical that EVERY batsman in the world is always compared to SRT by Indian supporters! Guys, SRT is a legend... We get that.... We respect that. Just STOP dissing other brilliant batsmen because you ALWAYS compare them to SRT. Sanga is a brilliant batsman. He is a very good and astute thinker of the game. And I am a South African supporter! To me India has MAJOR other problems. You guys do not even have a decent spinner!! Fix that, your fast bowling line-up and your replacement batting if the stars retire... Then you are No 1!

  • _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on July 28, 2010, 12:54 GMT

    @Usman_nile. Dravid and Sanga are both very good tourists. SRT is not the only 1 good in all conditions, only the most celebrated, that is why persons like u believe he is the only 1. Avg, only tell part of the story but they will show Dravid is a good tourist.

  • Rogue777 on July 28, 2010, 9:30 GMT

    @ Ignorant people like sinxad: Sanga's away record..... He has a 50+ average in 39 away tests. He as an ..... Average of 65 in Aus including a brillaint 192 at Hobart where he was only dismissed when the umpire made an error in very seamer friendly conditions. Average of 66 in Nzl where where he has 2 hundreds. And we all know how fast bowler friendly it is over there. In Pak he has an average of 86! So please look into data before you go around creating lies! And Sanga is right in spite of all of that we hardly get a long away series in SA and Aus so how are we to get accustomed top laying there! India has played so many 5 test series in SA and Aus how many do you think Srl have played? ZERO!

  • jaggss on July 28, 2010, 8:57 GMT

    If sangakkara believe they are a great team,why did the team messed up in Australia & india.They can score well only in flat pitches and claim to be great

  • aimnov on July 28, 2010, 7:31 GMT

    Sangakara and Mahela are surely going to make some high notes in test cricket with amazing high battnig average - demolishing the indian bowlers all around the ground - and scoring 100's..

    No Doubt Srilankan players batted way much better as compared to the Indians..Indian batsman really to learn how to play aggressive aswell as sane cricket on the ground (batting).

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