The former Sri Lankan captain has represented two franchises so far- the Kings XI Punjab between 2008 and 2010 and the Deccan Chargers/Sunrisers Hyderabad from 2011- and in both teams he has proven himself to be a pillar of strength in the batting order, despite not having a very fruitful season this year. He has been among the top batsmen in the world over the past 5 years. It is no wonder then, that he is considered to be a born match winner in the IPL. Although there have been whispers that his game is unsuitable for the T20 format, he has proven plenty of those people wrong over the years.
Kumar Sangakkara has so far been a part of 2 auctions- the ones in 2008 and 2001- and both times he has been picked up for an amount that was way above his base price, a sign that he is one of the very best players. In 2008, he went to the Kings XI Punjab for $700,000 when his base price was $250,000 and in 2011, the Deccan Chargers bought him for the same amount, his base price having had increased to $300,000. Moreover, his prowess as a shrewd thinker also makes him an invaluable member of the think-tank of any side.
Kumar Sangakkara is a specialist top order batsmen who usually bats within the top 4 and in fact he has displayed great flexibility over the years to be comfortable at all positions much like his compatriot Mahela Jayawardene. He can play the waiting game if there is a flurry of wickets and also up the tempo when the situation demands. After the first few seasons of the IPL, he has reengineered his style to become that of a T20 sheet anchor that prefers to score at a run a ball, while the rest of the batsmen can go for their shots as they can be sure that Sangakkara would hold fort at the other end. It appears that this particular strategy has been adopted by him since his induction into the Sunrisers Hyderabad; their batting cannot be called a strong one by any stretch of imagination and barring the exception of Shikhar Dhawan there are hardly any other players who have the ability to stay at the wicket and also score briskly.
Sangakkara has played plenty of crucial knocks over the past few seasons but his highest score came in the inaugural edition of the IPL in 2008 when playing for the Kings XI. He slammed a match winning 94 off 56 balls (4*13, 6*1) against a strong Mumbai Indians bowling attack comprising of the likes of Shaun Pollock, Ashish Nehra and Harbhajan Singh.
In the first three seasons of the IPL, when he played for the Kings XI Punjab, Sangakkara had the support of players like Yuvraj, Jayawardene, Shaun Marsh and others which gave him the freedom to go for his strokes. This explains the stupendous strike rates and the excellent average in the first three seasons (except the second season in 2009, when the batsmen found it difficult to score on the faster pitches of South Africa). However, as mentioned earlier, there has been a noticeable dip in his strike rate as well as average in the last three seasons when as a member of the Hyderabad franchise. He does not have the same sort of quality around him in the current team and the added responsibility of captaincy must also have had a role to play for the same. Hopefully, he would soon come into his own form in the next season. As a batsman he usually enjoys playing silky drives of the deliveries that are pitched outside the off stump. He played particularly well in the Sri Lanka tri-series this year.
Did You Know?
Following in the footsteps of his father, who was a well-known lawyer in his native Kandy, Kumar Sangakkara had also enrolled for law degree at the esteemed University of Colombo but his progress as a cricketer meant that he had to give it up midway. However, it cannot be denied that his erudition shines through whenever he is asked to speak and the finest example of this is the Colin Cowdrey lecture that he delivered at Lord’s back in 2011. He married his girlfriend of several years, Yehali and the couple have 2 children. Jayawardene was the best man at the wedding.
By Soham Samaddar