On a humid afternoon in August in the year 2001, a 23 year old youngster was seen addressing a handful of journalists after he had scored his maiden century in test cricket against India. The knock turned out to be a match winning one and ended up cementing Kumar Sangakkara’s place in Sri Lanka’s playing 11. The experts were pretty much sure that this lad from Matale, a small village in Sri Lanka would one day become the backbone of the Sri Lankan batting line up.
The 38 year old Kumar Sangakkara is widely regarded as one of the most polished stroke makers in the modern day game. An elegant stroke maker, a reliable wicketkeeper and an astute thinker, all of these qualities have been the prime reason behind Sangakkara’s success across all three formats of the game. Is memorable knock of 192 against the Aussies in Hobart in 2007 confirmed his place as the mainstray of Sri Lanka’s batting order. His splendid show with the bat made him earn the number 1 ranking in test cricket in 2007.
Sangakkara’s arrival on the cricket field was quite sensational. A blistering 156 against Zimbabwe A side in 2000 was enough to convince the selectors of his ability. His batting abilities were ornamented by a unique temperament which was way beyond his age. Sangakkara reached the pinnacle of his prowess under the leadership of fellow teammate Mahela Jayawardene. A splendid counter attacking century against the kiwis on a lively green batting strip in Wellington in 2006-07 showcased his skill to crack open bowlers on any surface.
Kumar Sangakkara happens to be one of the very few batsmen who own the stupendous record f scoring 10,000 runs in both tests and ODI’s. Given the responsibility of leading the side after the resignation of Mahela Jayawardene, Sangakkara was instrumental in guiding the Lankan side out of troubled waters time and again. The transfer of captaincy from Mahela Jayawardene to Kumar Sangakkara saw Sangakkara climb up to the zenith of his cricketing career. The Lankan southpaw guided Sri Lanka to the world cup final in 2011.
He led his side to thumping wins in Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and at home as well.Sangakkara stepped down from captaincy following an agonizing loss against Asian rivals India in the 2011 World Cup final. He confirmed his place in the pantheon of greats when he became the equal fastest to scale 10,000 runs in test cricket alongside Sachin Tendulkar and Brain Lara. In the holy quartet of Sri Lankan cricket if Arjuna Ranatunga was the creator, Sanath Jayasuriya was the destroyer, Mahela Jayawardene was the redeemer. Then Sangakkara can surely be considered as the protector.
An elegant left-hander up the order, Sangakkara was known for having a wide range of shots under his belt. Right from the classical pull in front of square to flicks over square leg, he had each and every shot in his armoury. A Sangakkara cover drive that went racing towards the cover boundary used to be a sheer delight to watch. When he got going, it used to appear as though poetry was in motion.
He now has more than 13,000 runs under his belt in the limited overs format of the game. Kumar Sangakkara’s hunger for runs grew with each passing game. He became the first batsman in the history of the game to score four consecutive centuries in World Cup cricket. He achieved this feat in the 2015 World Cup Ultimately, his heroics went in vain as Sri Lanka’s world cup campaign ended on a sour note as they lost to South Africa in the quarter Final.
It was here that the 38 year old announced his retirement from the limited overs format of the game. Kumar Sangakkara is to play his last test match against India, a team against which he scored his maiden test century. As a 23 year old, he led his side to victory against India. Can he do it again when he’s a 38 year old. Ah, I forgot to tell you that age is just a number.
He is undoubtedly a genius when it comes to batting and keeping wickets and yet he couldn’t win the World Cup. Well, legends generally end their careers on a tragic note. Tragedy is exactly what makes legends even more iconic and memorable than they actually are.