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Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay – Kumar Sangakkara has an imperfect end to his glorious Test career

Sri Lankan batsman Kumar Sangakara
Sri Lankan batsman Kumar Sangakara
©Reuters

August 24, 2015 - When Sri Lanka beat India by 63 runs in the series opener at Galle, it seemed that Sangakkara was in for the perfect farewell. However, Sangakkara's last test did not reserve a victorious end for the legend.

 

Kumar Sangakkara averaged 57.40 from 134 test matches which makes him one of the best, if not the best batsman of his generation. Steve Smith is head and shoulders above the current crop of batsmen with an average of 62.84 in test cricket. Marnus Labuschagne has a similar average but has a very small sample size to be in contention yet.

Sangakkara's average of 57.40 is more than that of Kallis, Ponting and Tendulkar. When you think that he also donned the gloves behind the wickets and led Sri Lanka in 15 test matches, the numbers are absolutely insane.

But even the best of the best don't get everything in cricket, like they don't in life.

Kumar Sangakkara had decided to retire from test cricket in Colombo after the second test of the three-match test series between India and Sri Lanka. When Sri Lanka beat India by 63 runs in the series opener at Galle, it seemed that Sangakkara was in for the perfect farewell. However, Sangakkara's last test did not reserve a victorious end for the legend.

 

 

On the back of a century from Lokesh Rahul and half-centuries from Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Wriddhiman Saha, India posted 393 runs on the board in their first innings of the match. Sri Lanka responded with 306, lagging behind India's first innings total by 87 runs.

Sangakkara made a 32-run contribution in the first innings and was dismissed by Ravichandran Ashwin, who wreaked havoc in the series, finishing the three-match rubber as the top wicket-taker with 21 wickets from six innings at 18.09 with best match figures of 10/160.

On the back of a century from Ajinkya Rahane and 82 from Murali Vijay, India gave Sri Lanka an improbable 413-run target in the second innings. More realistically, the home side had to bat out almost four sessions to save the match.

Sangakkara was dismissed for 18 in his last test innings as the Sri Lankan team collapsed for 134 in the final innings due to another 5-wicket haul from Ravichandran Ashwin, who dismissed Sangakkara in the second innings as well.

 

 

Sangakkara was understandably emotional during his farewell speech: "A lot of people have asked me what has inspired me. I don't have to look beyond my parents [chokes up]... Pauses. I am sorry I don't want to embarrass you but you have been my inspiration.

"People asked me the big achievements. The hundreds, the WC win, but I just look up at the box, all my friends over the last 30 years, have come up here on a Monday to watch me play. To be able to go back to a family that will love me whether I win or lose. That is my greatest achievement. Finally to Angie [Angelo Mathews] and my team. Angie, you have an amazing team. You have an amazing future. Just be fearless. Don't be afraid to lose when going for a win."

India went on to win the last test to register a brilliant come from behind series victory. That, in no way, was a blot on the legacy of Kumar Sangakkara, who finished his international red-ball career with a mountain of 12,400 runs from 134 test matches at an average of 57.40, including 38 centuries and 52 half-centuries and the best of 319.

 

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