Colombo: Kumar Sangakkara, who rose to become one of the greatest Sri Lankan to have have played the game, walked out to bat for one final time in international cricket amid a standing ovation at the P Sara Oval and guard of honour by the visiting Indian team.
The sizable crowd expectedly applauded when the stylish southpaw made his way on to the field and next came the guard of honour by the local cricketers, followed by the Virat Kohli-led team which had given the 37-year-old due respect on his arrival at the crease even in the first innings.
His last waltz though ended after he made just 18 runs with the help of three boundaries.
To most lovers of the gentleman’s game, Sangakkara might have a few good years left in him but the legend’s decision to retire can only be respected.
He walked into the middle with his team under pressure, a situation that brought the best out of him more often than not over the last 15 years.
Coming in to bat after the fall of Kaushal Silva in the third over and Sri Lanka given an imposing 413 target, the stage was set for Sangakkara to take his team home one last time.
He started his swansong confidently, flicking Ravichandran Ashwin for a couple. Soon followed a boundary of over throws before the sublime Sangakkara stroked two delightful fours off Ishant Sharma, one clipped off the pads and another his trademark straight drive off a half volley.
Just when he looked to go out on a high, Ashwin had him caught at gully for run a ball 18, bringing an end to a glorious career. It was Ashwin getting the better of Sangakkara for the fourth consecutive time in the series.
He made his way into the dressing room just like he had arrived at the centre, amid a fitting guard of honour. The Indian fielders duly lined up to shake hands with one of Sri Lanka’s best known cricketers and statesman.
Such was the mood around the ground that his emotional fans did not take long to trudge out of the stadium.
He ended with 12400 runs in 134 Tests at an average of 57.40 and 14234 runs from 404 ODIs at 41.98.