Sunday, 5 April 2015

Two Giants of Sri Lankan Cricket Bid Adieu to World Cricket

Along with Pakistan, another subcontinent cricket giant lost its two most trusted soldiers. Sri Lankan legend Mahela Jayawardene announced his retirement from all forms of cricket after they bowed out of tournament in the quarterfinals. Another gem, Kumar Sangakkara retired from ODIs and will retire from the longer format this August. This is a huge loss for the lovers of cricket worldwide. Their style and elegance will be missed and they are leaving behind a legacy extremely difficult to forget and their places will be difficult fill.

A season after Sri Lanka’s most glorious moment in their cricketing history, Mahela made his test debut against neighbors India. Little did anyone know that he would go on to become a highly respected figure not only in Sri Lankan cricket but global cricket. And as it turned out, he went on to serve his nation for 18 more years.

He holds the record for the highest score ever by a Sri Lankan player in Test cricket – 374 at home against South Africa. He is one of the few masters of the game to have more than 10,000 runs under his belt in both forms of the game. His trusted presence in the slips and anywhere on the field is well acknowledged. When Muralitharan deceived batsmen time and again, the ball went into the safest hands on the field and Jayawardene was not the one to drop any. This made the Jayawardene-Muralitharan duo a feared one. In fact, Mahela has most catches in ODIs and in Test cricket is succeeded only by Rahul Dravid.

Kumar Sangakkara debut for Sri Lanka in 2000 and since then has transformed into one of the finest batsman this world has ever seen. He has been a dominant presence in the top 10 of batsmen rankings over the past decade or so. Consistency over such a period of time is remarkable. He holds the record for most test double centuries (11) after Sir Don’s 12 centuries. And very recently, in his last few ODIs achieved a unique distinction of scoring 4 consecutive one day centuries.

As a captain, he instilled a sense of belief in the young Sri Lankan side and turned them into a formidable force. He led his team into the finals of the ICC 2011 Cricket World Cup after which he quit captaincy.

For a significant duration of his career, he kept wickets and was widely regarded as one of the most flamboyant and elegant wicketkeeper and an efficient one at that. As a wicketkeeper, he was the perfect, the complete asset to the team. He contributed the highest number of dismissals in ODIs including a record 96 stumpings.

Mahela Jayawardene had been the primary mainstay of the Sri Lankan middle order even in the toughest of times along with Kumar Sangakkara. Both of them have over 10,000 runs in both formats of the game. Together, they have amassed more runs than any other pair. Both of them will be missed by Sri Lankan cricket and fans all over the world.

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