Sri Lanka's talismanic batsman Kumar Sangakkara attends a press conference at a city hotel yesterday. The master batsman was in a relaxed mood having announced his retirement from T20Is after the end of the World Twenty20. Photo: Star
There is not a batsman today like Kumar Sangakkara. The man has built his game to such a height that he has answers for every kind of delivery, regardless of conditions on the pitch or overhead. He has been a cut above for a while and like his batting, he remains several leagues ahead of most of his contemporaries when taking guard of a different kind, as he did when he took the seat at the dais in a pre-tournament press conference at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel yesterday; one of the last times that he will be in the hot seat as a T20 International player.
Bangladesh have been luckier than most when it comes to seeing 'Sanga' at his best, and the country is fortunate once again to be the venue for the great batsman's T20I curtain call, as he announced a day earlier that the global showpiece would be his last T20I tournament. As his elegant batsmanship is grounded in pragmatism, so are his feelings towards his impending retirement.
"It was just an obvious answer to an obvious question when it comes to T20 cricket and this being the World Cup. I don't think it was a surprise, I think for a lot of people who analyse the situation they understand that it's the natural progression," the left-hander said when asked about his teammates' reaction to his decision.
Sri Lanka have been one of the more consistent performers in ICC tournaments, having been finalists in the last two editions of both the 50-over World Cup and the World Twenty20s, but have failed at the final hurdle.
"We were pretty raw in South Africa in 2008  when we played the first World Cup, but to come back in 2009 and go to the final in England was fantastic. But again, we did not play a good final. In 2012 again, at home, we got to the final and let it slip. I think the stumbling block has been that we have had great tournaments but in the final we made enough mistakes to lose a match," Sangakkara said.
True to form however, Sangakkara was looking at the bigger picture. "I am going to walk away happy no matter what happens because I think I have played with a very rare group of players over the years and enjoyed my moments with the team. I have played with some fantastic players. Not all of them [memories] will be about playing the game but also, you know you play a game and you go into the dressing room and you spend some time with your teammates. I think those are the best memories you carry away," said the batting great.
Sri Lanka skipper Dinesh Chandimal felt that Sangakkra's was a hard decision to take. "It's hard; you know he is a very good player. He is our wily old fox and as a captain I am sad to lose him."
As for the tournament itself, Chandimal thought local knowledge would help his team. "We have been here for the past two months and we are experienced in these conditions -- things like the pitches and how the dew factor affects each venue."