Tests still pinnacle, says Sri Lanka skipper Sangakkara

Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara put aside the hype over Twenty20 on Monday and declared that Test cricket remains the pinnacle of the sport.

updated: June 22, 2009 10:19 IST
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Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara put aside the hype over Twenty20 on Monday and declared that Test cricket remains the pinnacle of the sport.

"I think Twenty20 should enhance Test cricket; Tests should have prime importance," said Sangakkara after his team lost by eight wickets to Pakistan in the World Twenty20 final at Lord's.

The 16-day tournament has been widely hailed as a success with most matches at the Lord's, Trent Bridge and Oval venues sold out.

"If you ask players around the world, every single player will admit Test cricket is the real test," added Sangakkara.

"At the end of the day not many people will go around saying you scored 2,000 runs in Twenty20 cricket but they will talk of you if you score 10,000 runs in Test cricket.

"That is the final ambition of all cricketers and if you are a good cricketer you can play any format of the game.

"We as Sri Lankans would love to play 10 to 12 Test matches a year, we would like to see that day come very soon."

Sangakkara said he had no excuses after his side suffered fresh one-day misery after losing Sunday's final.

The comprehensive eight-wicket defeat followed the team's 50-over World Cup final loss two years ago to Australia in Barbados.

Sri Lanka had enjoyed an unbeaten run to the final, a sequence of wins which included a victory over Pakistan.

But on Sunday they lost early wickets - including player of the tournament Tillekaratne Dilshan for a duck - as they slumped to 32 for four after Sangakkara won the toss, with paceman Abdur Razzaq taking three for 20.

They eventually managed 138 for six but not even Sri Lanka's much-vaunted attack, featuring the likes of Lasith Malinga and Muttiah Muralitharan, could defend such a score and a masterful 54 not out from Shahid Afridi saw Pakistan home with eight balls to spare.

Defeat left Sri Lanka still searching for their first major international one-day trophy since they won the 1996 World Cup and Sangakkara, who did his best to repair the early damage with an innings of 64 not out, said the batsmen had let the bowlers down.

"The way we batted wasn't the ideal start to our innings," he said. "We were short of about 20 runs on this track.

"We tried our best with the total we had but when you don't get early wickets in the first six overs it's always an uphill task.

"We've had a great tournament and I'm very proud of the way the team have responded, the way they've played and the attitude they've shown.

"There are a lot of things to take from here. It's heartbreaking when you lose a final but Pakistan outplayed us."

Dilshan, who scored a total of 317 runs at a strike-rate of 144.74 and an average above 52, while delighting crowds with his extraordinary 'Dilscoop' stroke, could not hide his despair at making a duck in the final.

"I am proud I batted well throughout the tournament but very disappointed I didn't do my best in the final," the opener said.

This match came just months after the Sri Lanka team bus was attacked by armed militants in Lahore as the side travelled to a Test match.

That March 3 incident saw six policemen and two civilians killed, plus seven Sri Lankan squad members injured, notably spin star Ajantha Mendis, and led to the suspension of international cricket in Pakistan.

But Sangakkara said memories of Lahore played no part in Sunday's match.

"We would have done brilliantly (to get to the final), even if Lahore never happened," he insisted. "Lahore was the furthest thing from our minds, the team have done a great job mentally."