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Sangakkara’s 203 guides Sri Lanka to 113-run lead

January 4, 2015

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Kumar Sangakkara posted a majestic 203 — his 11th test double century — to guide a resurgent Sri Lanka to a 113-run lead over New Zealand at stumps on the second day of the second cricket test at the Basin Reserve on Sunday.

Sangakkara’s double century brought him within one of matching Donald Bradman’s record of 12 and came a day after he became just the fifth cricketer to pass the 12,000-run milestone in tests — and the fastest to do so in 224 innings.

Following a 2014 season in which he scored 1,493 runs, including two double centuries and three centuries, Sangakkara kept the runs coming at the start of the new year to help Sri Lanka reach 356 in its first innings in reply to New Zealand’s 221.

New Zealand was 22-0 in its second innings at stumps, with Hamish Rutherford on 12 and Tom Latham 9.

The hosts had the upper hand in the match — as well as a 1-0 lead in the series — when Sangakkara came to the crease late on Saturday after bowlers had dominated on a green and seaming pitch. Although Sri Lanka lost five wickets in quick succession before stumps, Sangakkara had remained patient and was 33 not out at the end of the day.

His stellar batting Sunday then revived Sri Lanka’s innings and allowed the visitors to build a commanding lead.

At first with caution but then with growing confidence, Sangakkara started to pull his team back into the match. He reached his century from a comparatively pedestrian 191 balls and then his 19th test 150 from 253 balls — more than any batsman besides Sachin Tendulkar.

By the end, he was playing with the New Zealand bowlers and frustrating the fielders: when the field was up, he hit over the top with lavish drives to extra cover and long on. When it was back, he pierced the field with unrelenting accuracy, kneeling to rifle a drive between point and cover.

Sangakkara batted in total for nearly seven hours and was the ninth man out in the Sri Lanka innings, falling late in the final session to an acrobatic catch by Trent Boult at point. Each of the New Zealanders shook his hand as he left the ground and the crowd gave him a standing ovation.

It was a far cry from the first test at Christchurch when he made scores of 6 and 1 as New Zealand won by eight wickets.

Sangakkara had vital support on Sunday from Dinesh Chandimal (67), with whom he put on 130 for the sixth wicket to change the complexion of the match. The pair batted through the first session, steadily reducing New Zealand’s lead, then carried on into the afternoon until Chandimal was out in the 70th over when Sri Lanka trailed by only 13 runs.

Sangakkara then added 34 for the seventh wicket with Dhammika Prasad, 57 for the eighth wicket with Rangana Herath, and 67 for the ninth wicket with Suranga Lakma, until finally being dismissed in the 102nd over. He had batted 412 minutes, faced 306 balls and hit 18 fours and three sixes.

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