• Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Very few mountains left to climb

Naimul Karim from Chittagong

First player to score a 300 against Bangladesh. Also the first in the country.  
Beat Brian Lara's record to become the fastest to score 11,000 runs—in 208 innings.  
The third Sri Lankan to score a 300 after Jayawardene and Sanath Jayasuriya.
He has scored nine double centuries—the second highest and three short of Don Bradman.

If it was a team effort from Sri Lanka that derailed the hosts in the first game, then it was Kumar Sangakkara's lone magnificence that left the Bangladeshis staring down the barrel yesterday.
Ask Shakib Al Hasan, Bangladesh's best bowler on the field, who was consistently whipped over the boundary for sixes and fours by Sangakkara; ask Shohag Gazi, who was so frustrated that he attempted to run a batsman out on his follow through, even though the batsman had not moved an inch outside the crease; or ask Nasir Hossain, who after getting the coveted scalp of Sangakkara raised his arms in the air and celebrated as if Bangladesh had won the world cup; such was the power of Sangakkara's knock.
It was the sort of innings that came right out of a movie. The opening scene saw him enter the crease with Sri Lanka in trouble at 49 for 2. He then came in and not only took the visitors out of trouble but his 319 also broke a string of records on the way. It was the first international triple century on Bangladeshi soil and he also became the third Sri Lankan after Sanath Jayasuriya and Mahela Jayawardene to score 300.
But the most coveted of records was that he had surpassed Brian Lara's feat of becoming the fastest to 11,000 test runs. He did it in 208 innings, beating Lara's 213.
Sangakkara, who has been greatly influenced by the West Indian legend, stated however that there was no question of any comparison between the two left-handers.
“He (Lara) was magical to watch so I am pretty happy to have equalled him in some kind of way, but I don't think I will equal him as a batsman because he is on a completely different level to most batsmen I have seen. I don't think I compare myself to him. To me he is beyond reach,” said the 36-year-old at the post-day press conference yesterday.
With 34 centuries, nine double centuries and eleven thousand runs, the 300 was one crucial landmark that the Sri Lankan was missing. Having achieved it, the obvious question was what else   
Kumar Sangakkara had on his bucket list.
“There are two ways of looking at it. Personally yes, I have achieved quite a bit as a batsman, but as a team's point of view our aim is to win a lot more Test matches especially away from home, I think we have a long way to go for that and to climb up the Test rankings,
“Hopefully before I finish we will be able to beat some of the big countries in their own backyard,” he said.
From starting cautiously and taking the visitors out of trouble to unleashing some powerful straight drives while batting with the tail, the greatest aspect of his innings yesterday was the way he divided it into phases. It was a virtue that, apart from his colleague Jayawardene, no other player in the series has displayed.  
“It was a case of us getting used to the pace of the wicket; it was difficult. If there was more pace we could have penetrated the field but without that it was just a waiting game and then when I really got set it was a case of trying to dominate,
 “It was getting a bit hard to score at the end because there were nine fielders on the line both on the off side and the onside and I couldn't rotate the strike. I had to shield the tail and tried to get to 300 as fast as possible,” he said.
Towards the end of the press conference, the left-hander stated that his 98 against South Africa in Centurion in 2001 was what made him believe that he could survive in the world of Tests. 13 years on, in an era of lucrative T20 competitions and flashy strokes, Sangakkara has shown that the classical style of play can still set the world alight.

Published: 12:00 am Thursday, February 06, 2014

Last modified: 12:09 am Thursday, February 06, 2014

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