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On This Day June 23: Sangakkara stranded on 199

Kumar Sangakkara refused to articulate what had gone through his mind as he stormed back to the pavilion. "I don’t think I can tell you," he said, and burst out laughing. He had had enough time to cool off and gather his thoughts by the time he was asked to relive his 562-minute innings.

He wasn’t laughing, though, when he watched Sri Lanka’s No. 11, Nuwan Pradeep, get bowled by Mohammad Hafeez’s offbreak. Sangakkara had become only the second batsman, after Andy Flower, to get stranded on 199 in Tests. Cricket, being such a numbers obsessed game, will probably remember his innings for the one run he didn’t get, rather than the labour behind the 199 achieved in just under two days in sultry Galle.

At one stage, the scoreboard had indicated Sangakkara was one big hit away from 200. He obliged with a massive slog off Saeed Ajmal over deep midwicket and celebrated, only to be told he was actually one short. That scoreboard error, which had him on 194 instead of 193, fooled nearly everyone at the ground. Sangakkara’s team-mates in the dressing room gesticulated wildly, suggesting his celebrations were premature, and he needed a few seconds for the embarrassment to settle.

Sangakkara had an opportunity to take the single off the last ball of the same over, but ended up pushing too hard to the cover fielder, thus exposing Pradeep in the following over. He admitted his adrenalin levels had dropped.

With wickets falling at the other end before tea, Sangakkara had had to farm the strike. The fielders were placed deep, so it was always going to be a slow graft in the energy-sapping heat. He didn’t have much confidence in Rangana Herath and hence had to choose his singles wisely. When push came to shove, Sangakkara punched hard wide of long-off and rushed Herath for the second run. Umar Gul’s throw to the bowler’s end was too quick and accurate for Herath to make his ground. With only Pradeep for company, Sangakkara charged Hafeez but miscued the loft, only to be dropped by the bowler himself.

Sangakkara said there was no point beating himself up for what had happened. "I was thinking about getting as close as possible [to 200] so if I’m a shot away, I’ll take that shot on," he said. "It was a case of trying to farm the strike with the tailenders, with the hope that we could get to a total of 500. I don’t usually count until I’m six or seven short of where I want to be.

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