Sri Lanka look to three-in-one Sangakkara
WORLD CUP: NEW DELHI, Feb 5 (AFP) - Sri Lanka cannot ask for
more of Kumar Sangakkara who performs a triple role - stylish batsman,
safe wicket-keeper and shrewd captain.
The left-hander also knows that he as well as his side will need to
be at their best in all departments in the World Cup if he aims to
emulate Arjuna Ranatunga or go one step beyond his predecessor Mahela
Ranatunga sparked wild celebrations in the country when he led Sri
Lanka to their only World Cup triumph in 1996, against Mark Taylor’s
Australians at Lahore.
He played a significant role in changing the face of Sri Lankan
cricket with his bold, and sometimes confrontational, leadership.
Jayawardene raised visions of doing a Ranatunga when he led his side
to the final of the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean, but had to be
content with a runners-up finish against Ricky Ponting’s Australians.
He led from the front as he emerged the tournament’s second-highest
scorer with 548 runs, including a crucial century in the semi-final
against New Zealand in Kingston.
Like Jayawardene, Sangakkara does not appear to be as aggressive as
Ranatunga, but is second to none when it comes to reading a match
situation and exploiting the opposition’s shortcomings.
The success of Australian Adam Gilchrist, India’s Mahendra Singh
Dhoni and New Zealander Brendon McCullum showed that the day of pure
wicket-keepers were over in one-day cricket.
Sangakkara also belongs to the ‘wicketkeeper-batsman’ club, giving
his side more options. He can also hold his place in the team purely as
a batsman, for he has the technique and temperament to play a long
Named one-day captain in 2009, Sangakkara showed Sri Lankan cricket
was on right track when his side beat four-time World Cup winners
Australia to clinch their maiden one-day series Down Under.
“There’s a lot to be taken out of the way we played these games. We
played the way we believed we could coming here,” Sangakkara said after
his team’s series win. “This is a stage we always wanted to get to where
everyone does what is asked of him and you can’t ask any more of the
players. They have grown in stature and self-belief.
“Sri Lankan cricket seems to be in really good hands going forward.”
The victory came at the right time for Sri Lanka, trying to find
match-winners in the absence of hard-hitting batsman Sanath Jayasuriya
and fast bowler Chaminda Vaas.
Sri Lanka left the veteran duo out of the 15-man squad for the World
Cup, but look determined to build on the triumph in Australia.
Sangakkara, who has not been keeping wicket of late in Tests, is an
attractive batsman to watch and can adapt himself to all forms of the