Sri Lankan cricketer Sangakkara craves new records

Sangakkara is the leading scorer at this World Cup with 496 runs from six games. (Mark Kolbe, Getty)

Sangakkara is the leading scorer at this World Cup with 496 runs from six games. (Mark Kolbe, Getty)

Sri Lankan veteran Kumar Sangakkara said on Wednesday that he loved chasing records after becoming the first batsman to score four consecutive one-day centuries during a World Cup game against Scotland in Hobart.

The 37-year-old left-hander hit 124 off 95 balls and Tillakaratne Dilshan made 104 as Sri Lanka piled up 363-9 and then bowled out the Scots for 215 at the Bellerive Oval.

Sangakkara took two catches to overtake Adam Gilchrist as the most successful World Cup wicketkeeper with 54 dismissals. The Australian had 52 victims to his name.

“Records do matter, I think,” Sangakkara told the BBC. “I would love to say records never enter my mind, but they do. There are certain things that you chase – you try to keep those goals.

“They are not the only things you chase, but as long as you do the right things, those things will fall into place and come along.”

Sangakkara, who will retire from one-day cricket after the World Cup, made 105 not out against Bangladesh, an unbeaten 117 against England and 104 against Australia earlier in the tournament.

He is the leading scorer at this World Cup with 496 runs from six games, followed in second place by 38-year-old Dilshan with 395 runs.

Old age
Sangakkara admitted that age was catching up with him, but the routine he followed on the field appeared to be working.

“Once you get used to a certain routine of ‘keeping and batting in ODIs, it isn’t so bad. But now that I am 37, the joints are creaking,” he said at the post-match ceremony.

“I consider myself lucky to be part of such a good side. Sometimes things just fall in place. Everything clicks. I am not sure what that one thing is [that keeps him going], but it is definitely working for me at the moment. Hopefully I can keep on to it.”

Sri Lanka ended the league with four wins from six matches and now await an undecided opponent in the first quarterfinal at the Sydney Cricket Ground on March 18.

Sangakkara said Sri Lanka, who were champions in 1996 and made it to the final in the past two tournaments in 2007 and 2011, were ready to reach the summit.

“As long as we enjoy ourselves and believe we can do it, then we can go far,” he said. “The key for us is the way we enjoy our cricket. As long as there is a smile on our face, then that is what matters most.

“I would love to see myself, and all of us, on the winning podium, but you can’t want it too much. We just need to keep focused on the present and work hard each day.”

Sangakkara leapfrogged six players who had scored three ODI centuries in a row – Zaheer Abbas and Saeed Anwar of Pakistan, the South African trio of Herschelle Gibbs, AB de Villiers and Quinton de Kock, and Ross Taylor of New Zealand.

Retirement ‘feels right’
Sri Lanka’s captain Angelo Mathews said he had gone down on his knees to beg Sangakkara not to quit after the World Cup, but the star batsman seemed to have made up his mind.

“Retirement is not about form, it is about time and place and whether it feels right,” said Sangakkara, who has been playing international cricket since 2000. “It is never about whether you can play or not.”

Sangakkara’s long-time compatriot Mahela Jayawardene, who retired from Test cricket last year, will also quit one-day matches after the World Cup.

But Sangakkara has not announced any retirement plans from Test cricket. – AFP

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