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Cricket Bids Farewell to Stalwart Sangakkara

Image: ESPN
When one talks of Sri Lankan cricket, Kumar Sangakkara is a name that simultaneously strikes the mind. That's the aura of this undisputed champion of the game, who not only is the brand ambassador of the sport in his nation, but of the sport worldwide.

It was on 5th July 2000 against Pakistan that a 22 year old young Sri Lankan wicket-keeper batsman made his debut in international cricket. Today, 15 years hence that very same lad is the one whose name merely speaks volumes, and the perfect cover drive of the left hander is always in motion in the minds of cricket buffs. 

Fifteen years of class, elegance, giving the captain and bowlers of the opposition nightmares and above all standing up for the team whenever required today retires from the sport leaving behind a legacy for his team mates to continue and millions to look up to.

First player in the world to score 150+ runs in four consecutive Test matches, fastest to 8000, 9000, 11000 and 12000 runs, a century against every opposition played are just a few of the maestro's endless list of test records. Averaging more than around 58 in tests, with 11 double hundreds (just one short of the great Sir Donald Bradman), two of which exceeding 300, and dominating at the top slots of the ICC Test Rankings for over a decade are the unbelievable stats to his name which can leave anyone astounded.
Image: The Guardian
Arguably the best player to have been produced by Sri Lanka, this left-handed batting sensation has an equally incredible record in the limited overs format. The only batsman to score four consecutive centuries and that too in the recently concluded World Cup and the only Sri Lankan to cross the 14000 run mark, he is one of the most refined and prodigious batsman to have played the sport. 

Although he gave up his wicket keeping in tests to concentrate on his batting, he holds the record of the most number of stumpings (99) which proves how good a wicket keeper he had been. Another veteran keeper of the game Adam Gilchrist was quoted heaping praise on his keeping. He said: "Keepers stand to medium pacers and have done it to an exceptionally high level but Sangakkara has been outstanding."

A prolific career as a batsman and wicket-keeper, Sangakkara in his two year stint as the Sri Lankan captain tasted success too. Although there were a few lows, he was the captain to lead the Sri Lankan team into the 2011 World Cup Finals which they unfortunately lost to India. Although winning the 50-over World Cup will remain an unfulfilled dream for the legend, he was a part of the  champion World T20 team and played an instrumental role in it.

He shared the most special stands on the cricketing pitch throughout his career with his friend and former Sri Lankan cricketer Mahela Jayawardane and together took Sri Lankan cricket to a different level altogether. They hold the record of the most partnership runs for the 3rd wicket in Tests amassing 5890 runs. They also have the record of highest stand for any wicket in Test Cricket making 624 runs against the South Africans in 2006. 

This stalwart of the cricket fraternity was the highest run getter in all the formats in the calendar year of 2014. He was honoured with a lot of prestigious awards throughout his career including winning the prestigious Wisden Leading Cricketer In the World twice (2011 & 2014) and also the ICC Cricketer of the Year in 2012.

He also happened to deliver the MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture in 2011 and became the youngest and the only current international player to do so. The speech wherein he spoke about the history of and corruption in administration of Sri Lanka Cricket, recived a lot of criticism by the officials back home, but on the other hand it was lauded and appreciated by members of the cricketing farternity and remains to be one of the most important speeches in the history of cricket. 

Calm and composed on the field allowing his willow to do the talking and the saviour for his team in the most crucial situations, Sanga has always been  an equally humble and admirable person off the field which is why today he has won millions of hearts globally. A prudent perfectionist of the game to have always played the gentleman's sport in the right spirit is a part that has always shone out in his personality. From his own contemporaries to budding young cricketers he has been an inspiration to innumerable people.

Former Indian Cricketer VVS Laxman was quoted saying, "His records speak for himself. He is a phenomenal player, one of the most technically correct batsman I have played with."

Angleo Matthews the current Sri Lankan captain said, " I have almost got on my knees and begged him not to retire." , which shows how special a place he has always held for his team mates.

A player to have conquered the 22 yards in his own right, making exemplary contributions to the game for generations to know and learn about, and  securing a place in not only Sri Lankan but a lot of cricket fanatics' hearts retires today leaving a lot many saddened. However that's the way ahead and we wish him luck for the second innings in his life.
Image: NDTV

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TheSportMatrix | We Live For Sport: Cricket Bids Farewell to Stalwart Sangakkara
Cricket Bids Farewell to Stalwart Sangakkara
When one talks of Sri Lankan cricket, Kumar Sangakkara is a name that simultaneously strikes the mind. That's the aura of this undisputed champion of the game, who not only is the brand ambassador of the sport in his nation, but of the sport worldwide.
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TheSportMatrix | We Live For Sport
http://www.thesportmatrix.com/2015/08/cricket-bids-farewell-to-stalwart.html
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