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Playing in a team whose batsmen have regularly struggled outside Sri Lanka, Kumar Sangakkara has stood out because of his consistency and reliability in away Tests
September 15, 2011
Proven performer home and away
In the third Test at the SSC, Kumar Sangakkara will become the fifth Sri Lanka player and the 51st cricketer overall to feature in 100 Tests. Ever since his debut in 2000, not only has Sangakkara been one of Sri Lanka's most successful batsmen in home Tests, but has also shown good consistency in away Tests, something very few Sri Lanka batsmen have managed over the years. Sangakkara, like most top batsmen, has a home average higher than his overall career average, but stands out among Sri Lanka's players because of his solid performances in conditions outside the subcontinent. He is Sri Lanka's highest run-getter in Tests played outside Asia and also boasts the highest average among Sri Lanka cricketers who have scored at least 1000 runs in Tests outside the subcontinent (excluding Zimbabwe Tests). Although he has a lower conversion rate of fifties to hundreds (0.36) than Mahela Jayawardene (1.67) and Marvan Atapattu (0.66), he has far fewer low scores and has been dismissed for a duck only once in 48 innings. However, Sangakkara's average of 41.66 in Tests outside the subcontinent (Zimbabwe Tests not included) is only seventh on the list of averages for top subcontinent batsmen in Tests outside Asia.
Between his debut and the end of 2005, Sangakkara scored 3822 runs at an average of 46.60 with eight centuries and 18 fifties. Since then, however, he has had a far more prolific run, scoring 4750 runs at an average of 65.97 with 17 centuries. His finest year was 2007 when he scored 968 runs in seven matches at an average of 138.28. Sangakkara also played as a wicketkeeper in 48 Tests but was less successful as a batsman in those games. While his average is 40.48 in the matches he played as a wicketkeeper, the corresponding number jumps to 70.84 in games where he has played purely as a batsman. Sangakkara also had a very successful time as a batsman in Tests in which he was captain; his average of 69.60 is second only to Don Bradman's average of 101.51 among captains who have scored at least 1500 runs. During the course of his career, Sangakkara has demonstrated a penchant for big scores. His tally of seven double-centuries is joint-third on the list of batsmen with the most 200-plus scores in Tests.
|Debut- Dec 2005||53||3822||46.60||8/18|
Till the end of the 1990s, Sri Lanka won and lost 11 Tests in Sri Lanka, and were not quite a force to be reckoned with at home. However, all that has changed since 2000 when they have won 32 Tests and lost just 13. Along with Muttiah Muralitharan's extraordinary bowling display, the batting exploits of Sangakkara and Jayawardene have proved crucial to their success. While Jayawardene averages 63.04 in home Tests with 20 centuries, Sangakkara is not far behind with an average close to 62 with 16 centuries. They have, by far, been the best batsmen for Sri Lanka in home Tests over the years with only Aravinda de Silva and Sanath Jayasuriya coming close. Away matches have never been Sri Lanka's forte. They had won five and lost 27 Tests till the end of the 1990s. Since then, they have been more successful winning 13 and losing 21. Sangakkara, who has nine centuries at an average of 48.61 in away Tests, is well ahead of Jayawardene and de Silva, who have away averages of 40.45 and 36.12 respectively.
|Batsman||Matches||Overall (Runs/Avg)||Home (Runs/Avg)||Home (100/50)||Away (Runs/Avg)||Away (100/50)|
|Aravinda de Silva||93||6361/42.97||3290/52.22||11/13||3071/36.12||9/9|
In a period when Sri Lanka's win-percentage significantly went up, Sangakkara played a significant role. Overall, in matches won by Sri Lanka, he has averaged 76.46 with 15 centuries. More importantly, perhaps, he has averaged 71.00 in away wins, the best among Sri Lanka's batsmen. Sangakkara has also been consistent across the four innings with his average ranging from a high of 66.13 in the second innings to 39.00 in the fourth innings.
Unimpressive in England and South Africa
Among home grounds, the SSC, which is the venue for the third Test against Australia, has been Sangakkara's favourite. He has scored 1864 runs at the SSC with seven centuries in 18 Tests at an average of 74.56. Sangakkara has generally reserved his best performances for matches against Pakistan. He averages 77.29 with five centuries in eight matches against them. He has been highly successful in Pakistan, especially in Lahore and Karachi where he has aggregated 634 runs at an average of 105.66. While he has done very well against India at home (average 74.33 with four centuries), he has not quite been the same force in India where he averages just 36.50. He has had an ordinary time against Australia in home Tests (average 25.60 with just one fifty) but has been Sri Lanka's best player in Australia. On the 2007 tour, Sangakkara missed the first match but nearly helped his team pull off a sensational win with a superb 192 in Hobart. However, he has struggled in England and South Africa with only one century in 14 Tests.
|Opposition||Overall (Avg)||Home (Matches)||Home (avg, 100/50)||Away (matches)||Away (avg, 100/50)|
|Australia||40.43||5||25.60, 0/1||3||65.16, 1/3|
|England||38.41||9||47.92, 1/4||9||30.58, 1/2|
|India||57.13||9||74.33, 4/2||6||36.50, 1/0|
|New Zealand||59.18||4||52.83, 1/2||4||66.80, 2/0|
|Pakistan||77.29||5||68.77, 2/2||3||86.87, 3/3|
|South Africa||53.72||7||65.83, 2/2||5||39.20, 0/3|
|West Indies||54.00||8||68.00, 3/2||4||34.00, 0/3|
Outstanding record as a pure batsman
Doubling up as a wicketkeeper did seem to affect Sangakkara's batting as he averaged just over 40 in the 48 Tests when he kept wickets. The story is altogether very different in matches when he has not had to keep wickets. He averages 70.84 with 18 centuries and his average is second only to Don Bradman's among batsmen (non-wicketkeepers) who have scored a minimum of 5000 runs. Ten of his 18 centuries came in wins and he averaged an astounding 86.28 in these matches. However, his average of 40.48 in matches when he played as a keeper is behind only that of Andy Flower (53.70) and Adam Gilchrist (47.60) among wicketkeepers who scored over 3000 runs.
Top-class partnership pairing
Sangakkara and Jayawardene have been the most prolific batting pair for Sri Lanka in Tests. In 87 innings, they average 61.42 and have shared 13 century partnerships including the record 624-run stand against South Africa in 2006. In 47 partnerships in home Tests, they average 72.41 and have shared nine century stands, of which seven have been over 150. Among batting pairs who have aggregated at least 4000 runs, the Sangakkara-Jayawardene pairing's average is behind only Australia's Matthew Hayden and Ricky Ponting (average 67.11).
|Rahul Dravid/Sachin Tendulkar||134||6520||50.93||19/26|
|Gordon Greenidge/Desmond Haynes||148||6482||47.31||16/26|
|Matthew Hayden/Justin Langer||122||6081||51.53||14/28|
|Mahela Jayawardene/Kumar Sangakkara||87||5160||61.42||13/22|
|Matthew Hayden/Ricky Ponting||76||4765||67.11||16/22|
|Alastair Cook/Andrew Strauss||111||4635||42.52||13/18|
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