Sanga, not quite the ODI player?

19 Mar 2011 by Vinay Anand in ICC Cricket World Cup 2011

Kumar Sangakkara is rated as one of the world’s best batsmen and is a joy to watch when he is in full flow. However, his credentials off late have not been great in ODIS and in fact it is only in Tests that he has been able to score a lot of runs. This is a worry for Sri Lanka and a question rises whether Sangakkara should quit wicketkeeping in ODIS as well, so that he can focus on his batting and leadership.

The Sri Lankan skipper scored his first ODI century since June 2008, against New Zealand today in Mumbai. This is certainly a long gap for a player of his calibre. Ever since he has taken over captaincy in June 2009, Sangakkara has scored just nine fifties. Fortunately, Sri Lanka have won more than they have lost but that is due to the likes of the resurgent Tillakratne Dilshan and Sangakkara’s ever-reliable predecessor Mahela Jayawardene in terms of batting. Their form could also dip and with his balanced style of batting at No.3, Sangakkara has to take responsibility of scoring runs consistently like he used to previously.

However, his fortunes are the reverse in Tests. He is no more wicket-keeping and that has worked. Sangakkara has been able to focus on his batting and as a result, he was declared the Worlds No.1 Test batsman for the first time in December 2010. Besides his batting suits Sri Lanka in Tests, since they need someone to stabilize the innings and create big partnerships with middle-order batsmen such as Mahela Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera.

He needs to pull up his socks in ODIS and play in the manner that he did today, more often. Sri Lanka needs his runs as well, especially in situations when the team is in trouble while batting and that too chasing in the Indian subcontinent. Now only if Sangakkara can convert his 40s and 50s into big hundreds, then Sri Lanka would not have to rely on their bowlers every time to win them matches.


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