x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Sangakkara 'proud' of reaching his century

The former captain wants be part of winning side in his milestone game, a 100th Test match, and help level series against Australia.

Kumar Sangakkara will become the fifth Sri Lankan player to play 100 or more Tests, and is aiming to finish his career with 10,000 runs and 30 centuries.
Kumar Sangakkara will become the fifth Sri Lankan player to play 100 or more Tests, and is aiming to finish his career with 10,000 runs and 30 centuries.

COLOMBO // Kumar Sangakkara hopes Sri Lanka will celebrate his 100th Test appearance with a series-levelling victory over Australia in the final match in Colombo from tomorrow.

"It's a great honour to have represented my country for a period of time, and also a great honour to play 100 Test matches," Sangakkara told reporters ahead of his landmark match at the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC).

"It's not often that a player gets that opportunity and I'm very, very proud, and also very privileged to be given the opportunity to represent my country and my people for so long.

"But the most important thing is to contribute as much as I can to the side winning games.

"It's nice to participate, but you want to say to your teammates and others that we are winners.That is what everyone wants, go out there and win matches. It's what the whole team is chasing at the moment, to try to win and be the best."

Sangakkara, who turns 34 next month, will be the fifth Sri Lankan to play a century of Tests after Muttiah Muralitharan (132 matches), Mahela Jayawardene (121), Chaminda Vaas (111) and Sanath Jayasuriya (110).

The elegant left-hander has provided substance and stature to Sri Lanka's batting along with his good friend Jayawardene since his debut against South Africa in Galle in 2000.

His 8,572 runs in 99 Tests at an average of 55.66 with 25 hundreds are second in his country's all-time list, behind Jayawardene's 9,801 runs from 121 matches.

Sangakkara said his goal was to compile 10,000 Test runs and score 30 centuries before he hung up his bat, but retirement is still far from his mind.

He could not have asked for a better venue than his favourite hunting ground at the SSC to mark his 100th Test, and lead the team's bid to draw the three-match series 1-1.

In the 18 Tests he had played at the SSC, Sangakkara has scored 1,864 runs at an awe-inspiring average of 74.56 with seven three-figure knocks, including three double centuries.

It was at the same venue that Sangakkara and Jayawardene recorded the highest partnership ever in Test cricket: 624 for the third wicket in 2006 against a South African attack that included Dale Steyn and Makhaya Ntini.

Sangakkara made 287, while Jayawardene smashed 374 before being bowled by Andre Nel agonisingly close to West Indian Brian Lara's world record of 400 not out.

Sangakkara has scored centuries in each of his last three Tests at the SSC, including 219 against India last year.

But Sri Lanka have not won a Test since the retirement of world bowling record holder Muralitharan last year, losing three of the 10 played since then.