Sangakkara shines amid the gloom for Sri Lanka

MELBOURNE Wed Dec 26, 2012 2:59pm IST

Sri Lanka's wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara lies on the ground after dropping a catch from Australia's Shane Watson during the first day of the second cricket test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground December 26, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray

Sri Lanka's wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara lies on the ground after dropping a catch from Australia's Shane Watson during the first day of the second cricket test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground December 26, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/David Gray

Related Topics

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - While his team mates withered in the glare of the Boxing Day spotlight, master batsman Kumar Sangakkara was the one beacon among the overwhelming gloom for Sri Lanka at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The 35-year-old became only the 11th cricketer to surpass 10,000 runs in his fighting 58 against Australia on Wednesday but had little time to celebrate with his batting partners, who surrendered meekly on the opening day of the second test.

The ICC cricketer of the year unleashed a sublime array of shots, blasting imperious cover drives to the fence and straight past the bowler before skying a catch to wicketkeeper Matthew Wade off the bowling of Mitchell Johnson.

That snuffed out the tourists' hopes of a face-saving tally as Sri Lanka were bowled out for a measly 156 runs before tea but Sangakkara at least provided a three-hour feast for more than 67,000 festive spectators at the MCG.

"I think everybody watching thoroughly enjoyed the elegance of the player," Sri Lanka coach Graham Ford told reporters.

"He really is something special when he plays like that. And to achieve what he has achieved is absolutely amazing, so for us, although it was a disappointing day in many ways, that brought a lot of joy to the lads.

"He's very popular in the dressing room and to see him achieve that, everybody's absolutely delighted."

Sangakkara aside, Ford had precious few plaudits for the rest of the team, who he said may have suffered stage fright in their first Boxing Day test in 17 years.

Chasing their first test victory in Australia, they now stare down the barrel of a 2-0 series deficit before the third and final match gets underway in Sydney on January 3.

STAGE FRIGHT

Although he defended his team, the South African coach offered no excuses.

"There was a bit of indecision as to what to defend, what to attack and what to leave," he said.

"It's quite difficult to decide what has caused that but some of it could be as a result of it being such a big occasion and something that the boys have been looking forward to for such a long time.

"I think the desire to do well is extremely high, which at times can create a little bit of extra pressure.

"(The pitch) played pretty much as we thought it would � It certainly wasn't a huge bowler-friendly surface, it was a good, fair surface, I thought."

The Sri Lankan attack, rated harshly by former Australia seamer Rodney Hogg as the worst to visit Australian shores, bowled poorly to David Warner and Ed Cowan in allowing them to compile an opening stand of 95.

They improved after the drinks break in the final session, but were lucky to have Warner swipe a catch in front of the rope and Phillip Hughes run himself out cheaply.

They face a Herculean task to restrict the hosts on day two, with in-form Australia captain Michael Clarke and Shane Watson resuming on 150-3 on a pitch likely to offer little for the bowlers as the day progresses.

"Unfortunately, we've spoken quite a bit about the importance of the first innings and how we need to post a big score, unfortunately some of our decision making wasn't as clear and precise as it should be as a batting group," Ford said.

"Tomorrow morning's first session is going to be extremely vital that we get in and bowl well and hopefully strike early." (Editing by John O'Brien)

FILED UNDER:

Australian Open

Novak Djokovic (L) of Serbia watches as Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland walks off the court after their men's singles semi-final match at the Australian Open 2015 tennis tournament in Melbourne January 30, 2015. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Djokovic beats Wawrinka, to face Murray

Novak Djokovic once again stood tall at the Australian Open as he reached his fourth final in the past five years with another five-set victory over Stan Wawrinka, the man who dumped him out of Melbourne Park last year.  Full Article 

Reuters Showcase

GDP Growth

GDP Growth

India's economic growth revised up by almost 50 pct.  Full Article 

Stake Sale

Stake Sale

Strong demand for Coal India boosts privatisation drive.  Full Article 

SpiceJet Bailout

SpiceJet Bailout

SpiceJet board approves up to $243 mln share sale plan  Full Article 

India Art Fair

India Art Fair

Art fair turns India's capital into art hub.  Full Article 

Child Trafficking

Child Trafficking

Police find hundreds of child slaves making bangles - media   Full Article 

Movie Review

Movie Review

"Rahasya" is an ode to Agatha Christie.  Full Article 

England Beat India

England Beat India

England reach final after Taylor-made victory.  Full Article 

Change Of Heart

Change Of Heart

Justin Bieber says dropping 'arrogant' and 'conceited' attitude  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage