Sydney, Mar 9: Spin legend Muttaiah Muralitharan has rated his countryman Kumar Sangakkara as the top One Day International batsman at the moment and feels most opposition sides "fear" him more than the likes of Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers or Glenn Maxwell.
Sangakkara hit his third hundred in a row in a losing cause yesterday against Australia at Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG). With this feat, the left-hander became the first batsman in World Cup history to score three tons in a row.
The 37-year-old, in his last World Cup, has scores of 39 (Vs New Zealand), 7 (Afghanistan), 105 not out (Bangladesh), 117 not out (England) and 104 (Australia) so far. (Sangakkara to retire from Tests)
On Sunday (March 8), Australia posted a mammoth 376/9 in 50 overs. In reply, Sri Lanka made a bold reply but fell short by 64 runs. Sangakkara hit 104 off 107 balls while Tillakaratne Dilshan and Dinesh Chandimal supplied crucial half centuries. However, Sri Lanka were bowled out for 312 in 46.2 overs (Chandimal was retired hurt and could not bat again).
Calling this achievement of Sangakkara as "incredible", Muralitharan praised the wicketkeeper-batsman and said he felt "positive" about Sri Lanka even though they had lost.
"It may seem like an odd thing to write after losing a match by 64 runs, but I am feeling very positive after Sri Lanka's defeat against Australia," Muralitharan wrote in his column for International Cricket Council's (ICC) website today.
"After conceding a mountain of runs, the batsmen once again showed their quality, and for 40 overs Angelo Mathews' men really kept the opposition on their toes," he added.
'Sangakkara is No. 1 ODI batsman'
He continued, "And in Kumar Sangakkara, Sri Lanka have the number one one-day batsman in the world at the moment. You can talk all you like about Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers or Glenn Maxwell - and all of them have played superbly in this tournament - but Sanga is the man all other sides will fear most of all," Muralitharan, who was a part of 1996 World Cup winning squad, said.
"His feat of scoring three World Cup hundreds in a row is incredible and his ability to score at better than a run a ball without appearing to take risks is exceptional.
"He knows his game inside-out and back-to-front and as this is his last World Cup he looks like a man on a mission. He is showing himself to be the complete player in every sense," Muralitharan opined.