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Clarke salutes 'world class' Sangakkara

March 08, 2015 20:12 IST

Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara celebrates reaching his century against Australia during their Cricket World Cup match in Sydney on Sunday

Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara celebrates reaching his century against Australia during their Cricket World Cup match in Sydney on Sunday. Photograph: Jason Reed/Reuters

The World Cup will be the last assignment for Kumar Sangakkara in One-Day Internationals and the Sri Lankan left-hander has ensured he will sign off on a high, at least on the personal front.

Sangakkara, 37, scored 104 against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday for his third consecutive hundred in the World Cup and also became the second batsman after India's Sachin Tendulkar to cross 14,000 runs in the 50-over format.

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Considered by many as the most elegant left-handed batsman of the current era, Sangakkara is expected to continue playing test cricket for some time and his retirement will leave a big void in the Sri Lankan batting line-up.

"He's certainly as good as any player I've played against. He's a wonderful batsman," Australia captain Michael Clarke said of Sangakkara a day before their Pool A match against Sri Lanka.

"His statistics show that in both Test and One-day cricket. He's an absolute gentleman, a lovely, lovely guy."

Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara plays a shot on the off-side

Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara plays a shot. Photograph: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

After a low-key start to the tournament when he scored 39 and seven in his first two matches, Sangakkara has scored 107 not out against Bangladesh, followed by an unbeaten 117 against England before scoring his 24th ODI hundred on Sunday.

Clarke considers him one of the all-time best batsmen.

"Yeah, I think Kumar and Jacques Kallis are probably two guys I've looked up to and think that if they played for different countries, they would be -- they could quite easily be regarded as the best ever," Clarke said.

"But I think he's batted number three his whole career, for a lot of his career in test and one‑day cricket. It's a really tough position.

"He's scored runs all around the world against some very good bowling attacks. I think he's a world class player. He's been No. 1 batter in the world for a long, long time."

While Clarke would have preferred a soft performance from Sangakkara on Sunday, the wicketkeeper-batsman was out to make him nervous even after Australia amassed 376-9 batting first.

Sri Lanka's Tillakaratne Dilshan congratulates Kumar Sangakkara after he passed the milestone of 14000 One-Day International runs against Australia in Sydney

Sri Lanka's Tillakaratne Dilshan congratulates Kumar Sangakkara after he passed the milestone of 14000 One-Day International runs against Australia in Sydney. Photograph: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Sri Lanka looked firmly in the chase while Sangakkara, who hit 11 fours in his 107-ball knock, was at the crease.

He stitched together a 130-run stand with Tillakaratne Dilshan (62) for the second wicket in 19.5 overs and another 53 for the third with Mahela Jayawardene (19) before holing out in the deep trying to hit James Faulkner.

"I thought they played really well, the whole Sri Lankan batting order, played really well," Clarke said after the win.

"We had to continue to take wickets, our attitude as to take wickets and it shows how far the game's come that you can even think about chasing 375 runs.

"You see two teams going at it and doing their best, Maxi's (Glenn Maxwell) innings was the standout for me but Sangakarra again and the whole Sri Lankan batting order put us under pressure, that's for sure."

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