Durability Sangakkara's forte
Until November 2011, Sanath Jayasuriya was the only Sri Lanka batsman in the elite 10,000-ODI-runs club. Just 11 matches after Mahela Jayawardene reached the mark against Pakistan, Kumar Sangakkara also achieved the feat, during his breezy knock of 30 against Australia in Sydney. Sri Lanka are thus the only team to have two current players with 10,000-plus ODI aggregates, and also the second team after India to have three players who have surpassed the landmark. Sangakkara, who has been the mainstay of Sri Lanka's batting in Tests and ODIs along with the classy Jayawardene, reached the 10,000-run mark in his 315th ODI. He is the fastest to the mark among Sri Lanka batsmen, both in terms of matches and innings. While most Sri Lanka batsmen have struggled overseas over the years, the compact Sangakkara has dealt with foreign conditions a lot better, and averages close to 40 outside Sri Lanka.
Overall, Sangakkara has a highly respectable record in ODIs, averaging 37.80 with 12 centuries and 67 fifties. However, what is surprising is that his away record is much better than his home one. In 106 home ODIs, Sangakkara averages slightly below 35 with just one century. In away matches, not only is his average much higher (39.29) but also his century tally (11). His away stats, however, are slightly skewed towards performances in the subcontinent. In the subcontinent, he averages 38.80 while scoring ten of his 12 centuries. Outside the subcontinent, he has done fairly well (average of 36.52) but has a poorer ratio of centuries to fifties (2:31) as compared to the corresponding number in the subcontinent (10:36). As is the case with most top ODI batsmen, Sangakkara has lifted his game in World Cups. Among Sri Lankan batsmen who have played at least 25 World Cup matches, his average of 45.04 is the second-highest behind Arjuna Ranatunga's, and his aggregate of 991 runs is behind only those of Jayasuriya and Aravinda de Silva. He has no century in tournament finals but his average of 38.18 is marginally better than his overall ODI average.
|In World Cup||30||991||45.04||78.71||1/7|
Sangakkara endured a fairly ordinary start to his career before cementing his place as one of Sri Lanka's best ODI batsmen. In his first four years (2000-2003), he had an average of just 28.55 and a strike-rate of 69.39 in 96 matches, while scoring only two centuries. Things turned around after that though; in the next five years (2004-2008), his average went up to almost 41 as he scored eight centuries in 139 ODIs. His best year in the period was 2004, when he scored over 1000 runs at an average of 53.15 with one century and ten fifties. In 2008, he averaged 39.25 but scored four centuries in 27 ODIs. In the last three years (2009 onwards), his average and strike-rate have gone up to 42.50 and 78.48, but he has struggled to convert the starts into centuries (two hundreds in 80 matches). Between 2009 and 2011, when Sangakkara was the ODI captain, he scored 1756 runs at a high average of 47.45.
Sangakkara and Jayawardene's stats are, in many ways, strikingly similar. Both batsmen have close to 7000 runs in away matches and over 3000 runs in home ODIs. In away matches, both batsmen have the same number of centuries (11) but while Sangakkara has just one century in home ODIs, Jayawardene has four. Sangakkara has been the more successful player in Australia, averaging 38.72 to Jayawardene's 32.94. Jayawardene has three hundreds in England but his average of 43.80 is lower than that of Sangakkara, who is yet to score a century there. In ODIs in South Africa and New Zealand, Sangakkara is comfortably ahead of Jayawardene, who averages just 17.45 and 20.42 respectively in each country. However, in the West Indies, Jayawardene has done much better, averaging 47.21 with a century and five fifties, while Sangakkara has struggled, scoring four fifties in 17 games and averaging 28.68.
|Country||Matches/Runs (Sangakkara)||Average, 100/50 (Sangakkara)||Matches/Runs (Jayawardene)||Average, 100/50 (Jayawardene)|
|Australia||38/1394||38.72, 1/9||43/1285||32.94, 1/11|
|England||16/579||48.25, 0/6||23/920||43.80, 3/3|
|New Zealand||15/425||32.69, 0/4||15/192||17.45, 0/0|
|South Africa||31/785||31.40, 1/4||30/531||20.42, 0/4|
|West Indies||17/459||28.68, 0/4||17/661||47.21, 1/5|
Sangakkara, who has batted at No. 3 for the majority of his career, has been immensely successful in that position. He is one of only four players to score over 5000 runs at No. 3. Ricky Ponting leads the fray in terms of runs but Jacques Kallis' average of 46.94 is the highest among batsmen with 4000-plus runs at No.3, and is followed by Brian Lara's 45.84. Sangakkara averages a relatively lower 38.53 but has a strike-rate of 75.57, which is bettered only by Lara and Ponting, who have corresponding numbers of 85.98 and 80.82 respectively. However, Sangakkara's century tally at No. 3 (5) is the second-lowest in the group and is better only when compared to Marvan Atapattu, who managed to score just four centuries batting at that position.
Sangakkara's feat is all the more remarkable considering that for the majority of his career he has also kept wickets. In Tests, his average in matches when he has played as a wicketkeeper is much lower than in those where he has played purely as a batsman. However, in ODIs, the numbers are reversed. Sangakkara has relished the dual role and his run-tally as a wicketkeeper-batsman is second only to Adam Gilchrist's. Among batsman-wicketkeepers with 4000-plus ODI runs, Sangakkara has an average of 39.50 which is bettered only by MS Dhoni, who has a stunning average of 51.41. By virtue of batting higher in the order, Sangakkara has scored ten centuries, which is behind only Gilchrist's tally of 16, but his strike rate of 76.72 is well behind those of Gilchrist and Dhoni, who have corresponding numbers of 96.94 and 88.32.