Kumar Sangakkara has shown his class in every format of the game he’s played, but none more so than at the ICC Cricket World Cup, where he flourished on the big occasion and has a long list of records to show for it.
To celebrate his 40th birthday, we look back at some of his greatest and glorious moments at the Cricket World Cup.
In Bloemfontein in 2003, a 25-year-old wicket-keeper/batsman made his Cricket World Cup debut for Sri Lanka against New Zealand in the first of four World Cups he would play in. He scored 13 with the bat and claimed four dismissals with the gloves (three catches and a stumping), and was on his way to holding the record for the most dismissals at the Cricket World Cup.
Fast-forward 12 years and 1519 runs later, and Sangakkara had firmly written himself in the history books, holding the Cricket World Cup record for most runs by a Sri Lankan (1532), most centuries by a Sri Lankan (5) and the highest average of a Sri Lankan to have batted in a minimum of 10 innings (56.74), to add to the aforementioned record of most dismissals by a wicket-keeper of any nationality (54).
But, perhaps his most memorable record is one he broke at the last Cricket World Cup in 2015 when he became the first player in history to score four consecutive centuries at the tournament.
On the day of his 40th birthday, we take a trip down memory lane and remember each one of those historic centuries…
26 February 2015 - 105* v Bangladesh
After hitting 39 and 7 in his first two games at the 2015 Cricket World Cup against New Zealand and Afghanistan respectively, it was Bangladesh who felt the full force of Sangakkara when they met in Melbourne.
Coming to the middle just short of half-way stage with Sri Lanka going along nicely at 122/1, Sangakkara joined Dilshan at the crease to put on a partnership of 210 as they finished on 332/1.
Sangakkara’s century came in just 72 balls, his fastest in ODI cricket on his 400th appearance. In total, his innings consisted of 13 fours and a six and lasted 116 minutes. From there, the wheels were in motion for yet another record to be broken.
1 March 2015 – 117* v England
Chasing 310 against England, Sangakkara came in again with Sri Lanka in a comfortable position at 100/1 after 19 overs. And, again, he contributed to a mega partnership to help Sri Lanka reach victory.
This time, it was Lahiru Thirimanne who shared the crease with Sangakkara, as they put on 212 together. Of those 212, 117 came from the bat of Sangakkara, as he hit 11 fours and two sixes in an unbeaten knock, with the century coming off just 70 balls, beating the record he set in his last ODI to become his fastest century.
8 March 2015 – 104 v Australia
History was made against Australia, as Sangakkara became the first player ever to hit three consecutive Cricket World Cup centuries.
For the first time at CWC15, though, his century wasn’t enough to save Sri Lanka from defeat.
Set a mammoth target of 377, Sangakkara came to the crease in the second over and put on a partnership of 130 with Dilshan.
While Dilshan fell for 62, Sangakkara batted on and reached his landmark century off exactly 100 balls. He fell shortly after for 104, however, and Sri Lanka finished shy of the target set by the eventual champions.
11 March 2015 – 124 v Scotland
With the ink barely dry in the record books, they needed to be written again just three days later as Sangakkara became the first player in history to hit score four straight centuries at the ICC Cricket World Cup.
Scotland were the fourth side in just 14 days to bear witness to Sangakkara hoisting his bat aloft in celebration, and again, it was reached with utter elegance.
He reached his ton in 86 balls and went on the finish with 124 off just 95 balls, his highest-ever score at the Cricket World Cup – hitting 13 fours and four maximums in the process.
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