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ESPNcricinfo Awards

ESPNcricinfo Awards 2007 Test batting and bowling winners: Kumar Sangakkara and Zaheer Khan

Two glorious performances overseas won our Test awards for 2007

Kumar Sangakkara's 192 gave Australia a serious scare  •  Getty Images

Kumar Sangakkara's 192 gave Australia a serious scare  •  Getty Images

Best Test batting performance

The Australian juggernaut barely missed the big names who retired after last year's Ashes, as it crushed Sri Lanka in the first Test and set a seemingly impossible target of 507 in the second in Hobart. Six of Sri Lanka's top nine batsmen scored fewer than five, but Sangakkara's glorious 192, which contained 27 fours and one six, ensured the match wasn't all one-way traffic. Ably assisted by Marvan Atapattu at the start of the long haul, Sangakkara guided the visitors to 247 for 3 at the end of the fourth day. Despite a collapse early the next morning when Sri Lanka lost five wickets for 25, Sangakkara gave Australia a few nervous moments with an audacious assault that only ended with an unfortunate umpiring call shortly before lunch.
Sangakkara refused singles off the first few balls of overs, and then when the field came in, reverted to one-day mode with some clean strikes over the off side. There were a few streaky shots too - thick edges flew to vacant spaces and not everything came off the middle - but it was a courageous fightback from a Sri Lanka outfit that desperately needed some spark.
It is hard to predict how close Sri Lanka would have come to the record score they needed to win had Sangakkara stayed at the crease, but the way he was playing he just might have got them home. He could have given up once Lee and Mitchell Johnson sparked the early crashes, but instead he simply altered his game plan and formed a 74-run stand with Lasith Malinga.
Sadly for the visitors Sangakkara was denied his third double-century for 2007 when he tried to hook Stuart Clark and the ball flew off his shoulder to Ricky Ponting at slip. Rudi Koertzen agreed with the Australians that there was some bat involved, but Sangakkara, and the replays, knew that was not the case. It was a disappointing finish to a superb display.
In the end Sangakkara's assault did not affect the outcome of the game, but it let him register the highest score by a Sri Lankan in a Test in Australia, beating Aravanda de Silva's 167 in 1989-90, and the highest score in a Test at the Bellerive Oval, passing Michael Slater's 168 in 1993-94. It also took Sangakkara to 677 runs for the 2007 calendar year, at a phenomenal average of 225.66. And he wasn't finished there: 291 runs at 72.72 in two Tests against England followed.

Best Test bowling performance

Arguments rage on about jelly-aches, beamers, shoulder-barging and on-field chatter, but no one could dispute the Man-of-the-Match award at Trent Bridge. Zaheer Khan swung the Test India's way on the first day before settling the issue on the fourth with a spell reminiscent of some of the great left-arm masters of the past.
Trailing by 283 on first innings, England needed plenty of runs in the second to save the game, but Zaheer ensured they wouldn't get them. He found his match-winning touch, swinging the ball either way, from both over and round the wicket, troubling both right-handers and left, and making them hop with his sharp angle, back of a length. He exploited Alastair Cook's weakness against the ball that jags back, tempted Andrew Strauss into flashing loosely, and hustled Michael Vaughan from round the wicket.
The freakish dismissal of Vaughan, who dragged one from his pads onto the stumps, opened the floodgates. Paul Collingwood and Ian Bell were then prised out with incisive swingers. Zaheer finished with his best match figures, a fitting reward for one of the better spells in recent memory.
For the first time in a series, he was the bowler India had expected him to be since 2000, when he bowled Steve Waugh with a scorching yorker in the Champions Trophy. His show-stopping exhibition of swing bowling was reminiscent of Wasim Akram and he was fittingly named Man of the Series, which India won 1-0, their first series win in England for 21 years.