Sangakkara reconsidering retirement plans, eyes Bradman record

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Sri Lankan great Kumar Sangakkara is reconsidering retirement plans after his 203 against New Zealand Sunday put him one behind Australian legend Don Bradman for the most double centuries.

The 37-year-old had indicated the second Test in Wellington could be his last with the intention of retiring from all international cricket after the World Cup which starts next month.

But after a match-changing innings of 203 to lead Sri Lanka out of trouble and put them in control of the Test at the Basin Reserve, Sangakkara said the lure of overtaking Bradman meant he may extend his career.

"I would love to," he said, reflecting on the impact his seven-hour innings had on a match where he engineered Sri Lanka's recovery from 78 for five to 356 all out and a first innings lead of 135.

"It just depends on how everything pans out after this World Cup. It's really hard to predict what will happen and what my thoughts will be at the end of the World Cup about my future.

"I've had a chat with the (Sri Lanka) selectors and promised them I will really have a chat and reconsider to see whether there is a few more months of cricket in me Test-wise.

Sangakkara, the most prolific Test batsman in the world last year with 1,493 runs, began this year by becoming the fifth player, and the fastest, to reach 12,000 Test runs.

He crossed that threshold when he reached five against New Zealand on Saturday in his 129th Test, and went on to score another 198 runs before he was the ninth wicket to fall.

Of his 200-plus innings, five have been away from home to equal the record held by Bradman, Len Hutton and Brian Lara.

He is now fourth on the list of century-makers with 38, behind India's Sachin Tendulkar (51), South Africa's Jacques Kallis (45) and Australia's Ricky Ponting (41).

Among the top echelon of Test batsmen, Sangakkara's average of 58.92 is second only to Bradman.

"The desire is always there," Sangakkara said as he weighed up the statistics against thoughts of retirement and spending more time with family and business interests.

"It's never the lack of desire or the lack of pride you take in playing for your country that makes you take a position to say 'that's enough'. It's just a case of sometime you just know it."

Should Sangakkara extend his career, Sri Lanka have Test series coming up this year against Pakistan, India, the West Indies and New Zealand again.

Master class

Kumar Sangakkara provided a cricket master class Sunday with an exquisite 203 to lift Sri Lanka off the ropes and put them in command of the second Test against New Zealand.

It was the 10th highest score of Sangakkara's illustrious Test career and the 11th time he has reached 200, putting him one behind Australian legend Don Bradman for the most double tons.

Sri Lanka were all out for 356, a 135-run lead, and at stumps in their second innings New Zealand were 22 without loss with Hamish Rutherford on 12 and Tom Latham on nine.

The prolific knock was enough to make Sangakkara reconsider retirement plans, saying the idea of overtaking Bradman was attractive.

"I would love to," he said, adding a final decision on his future would be made after the World Cup starting in New Zealand and Australia next month.

"It's nice to get big ones especially in a game situation like this, to come back into the game from being 78-5.

"The idea was to punish the loose bowling. When they are constantly put under pressure to keep bowling those good balls and the moment when they make a mistake if that ball goes for a boundary that changes momentum."

New Zealand wicketkeeper BJ Watling, who had a close up view of Sangakkara's innings described it as "a demonstration of how to play by a world class player".

"He showed how good he is."

Sangakkara, who early in his innings became the fifth and fastest player to reach 12,000 Test runs, batted for nearly seven hours and faced 306 deliveries.

It took a stunning catch by Trent Boult diving high to his left at point to send Sangakkara back to the shed after he slashed at a loose Jimmy Neesham delivery.

After New Zealand dominated the first day when 15 wickets fell, their frontline seamers Boult, Tim Southee and Doug Bracewell never looked strong on day two.

It was master batsman Sangakkara, who unusually failed twice in the first Test, who appeared determined not to go cheaply again as Sri Lanka resumed at 78 for five, 143 in arrears.

Sangakkara put away his attacking instinct as he patiently led his side out of trouble taking 191 balls to reach his 38th Test century cutting Mark Craig for three.

With a three off Neesham in the next over he led Sri Lanka past New Zealand's 221 with four wickets to spare and then dramatically lifted the tempo as the bowlers tired in the final session.

As Sri Lanka put their nose in front after 74 overs Sangakkara had a century including seven boundaries to his name.

When he was dismissed just 28 overs later, he had contributed 103 of the next 134 runs, adding a further 11 fours and three sixes as he despatched the New Zealand bowlers to all points of the ground.

For much of the day Sangakkara had an admirable partner in Dinesh Chandimal.

Determined not to waste his recall to the side, Chandimal shared a 130-run partnership with Sangakkara for the sixth wicket.

He posted 1,000 runs in Tests on his way to 67, his sixth Test half century, his innings ending when he edged a full Neesham delivery and was caught by Watling.

Neesham and Watling combined again to remove Dhammika Prasad for 11 to have Sri Lanka 242 for 7.

Rangana Herath added 15 before was caught by Watling off Boult.

Suranga Lakmal scored only five of the 67 runs for the ninth wicket posted with Sangakkara.

The innings closed with Lakmal's stumping to give Watling a hand in five dismissals.

For New Zealand, Neesham was the most successful bowler on day two with three for 42 while Doug Bracewell finished with three for 93 without adding to the trio of wickets he took Saturday.

Lanka innings

Kumar Sangakkara provided the impetus to give Sri Lanka a handy 135-run lead over New Zealand after the visitors were bowled out in their first innings for 356 after tea on the second day of the second Test on Sunday.

Sangakkara scored his 38th Test century and 11th score over 200, as he made 203 and combined in a 130-run partnership with Dinesh Chandimal (67) as the pair resurrected Sri Lanka's innings after they had resumed in trouble on 78 for five.

The 37-year-old guided Sri Lanka past New Zealand's 221 and then built a lead as he combined in partnerships worth 148 runs with his bowlers, of which he scored 110 runs, before he was spectacularly caught by Trent Boult at point shortly after he reached his double century.

Tea

Kumar Sangakkara stroked his way to a 38th Test century as he combined with Dinesh Chandimal to lead Sri Lanka to 280 for seven at tea in the second Test against New Zealand on Sunday.

Sangakkara, who became the fastest man to score 12,000 Test runs on Saturday, was 139 not out at the Basin Reserve on the second day, while Rangana Herath was on 13 after playing several risky shots.

Sangakkara and Chandimal flourished in a 130-run partnership that resurrected the visitors' innings after they started the day precariously placed on 78 for five and a long way off New Zealand's 221.

The pair survived some nervous moments in the first session as they played at and missed several deliveries but they got the visitors through to lunch without loss.

Sri Lanka kept the scoreboard ticking over while also giving near chances after the break, with New Zealand off-spinner Mark Craig extracting turn and bounce from the pitch.

The partnership ended when the 25-year-old Chandimal, who had been prepared to throw his bat at wide balls throughout his innings, made slight contact with a wide Neesham delivery and was caught by wicketkeeper BJ Watling for 67.

Sangakkara, 37, brought up his century with a punch through the covers for three runs off Craig, then pushed his side past New Zealand's total with another three off Neesham.

The century appeared to loosen the shackles on Sangakkara, who was aware the second new ball was looming, though he lost Dhammika Prasad (11) shortly before it was taken.

New Zealand lead the two-Test series 1-0 after an eight-wicket victory in Christchurch.

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