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Sangakkara at his best at Bellerive
By David Beniuk
17:18 AEST Tue Dec 11 2012

Australia will face a formidable first Test challenge in the form of Sri Lankan superstar Kumar Sangakkara, who boasts a record in Hobart that can only be described as imposing.

The reigning ICC international cricketer of the year cracked 192 and 57 in his only Test at Bellerive in 2007 and, with four one-day internationals, averages 78.5 at the venue.

Sangakkara's Test average nudged above 60 in the year leading up to his ICC award won in September - when he was chosen ahead of South Africa's Hashim Amla and Vernon Philander and Australia captain Michael Clarke - bettering his overall Test record of 55.89.

The 35-year-old has plenty of motivation to do well again at Bellerive, needing only another 107 runs to become just the 11th batsman to pass 10,000 in Tests.

He also joins fellow members of the Sri Lankan old guard Mahela Jayawardene (35), Tillakaratne Dilshan (36) and Thilan Samaraweera (36) on the elusive quest to win a five-day game in Australia after 10 failures.

In what could be their last visits down under, they get the first of three chances to do so this summer against the new-look Australians at Bellerive from Friday.

"When you do get older, you do look for achievements where you haven't really tasted victory so, here and in India, (there are) Test matches still to win," he told reporters on Tuesday.

"That's a great motivator for guys like Dilshan, Mahela, myself and Samaraweera.

"We're the older brigade. But whether we get it or not, the key is to really contribute to the side."

Sri Lanka fell short by 96 runs in the 2007 match, the last Test played in Australia between the two nations.

But the match is largely remembered for the controversial decision that robbed Sangakkara of his double ton.

South African umpire Rudi Koertzen apologised to the batsman, who was wrongly given out when the ball hit him on the shoulder and helmet and floated to Ricky Ponting at slip.

In the first innings he was controversially given not out by the third umpire when he edged to Mike Hussey at gully.

Sangakkara wouldn't be drawn on whether this would be his last tour to Australia.

"I'm not sure when the next tour is," he said. "I wouldn't be able to give you a direct answer.

"But I'm 35 now - hopefully a few more years left in me.

"It just depends on me and how I perform. Everyone's got an expiry date. It's no use worrying about when that comes or when that is."

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka will choose between youngster Dimuth Karunaratne and Tharanga Paranavitana to partner opener Dilshan at Bellerive.

Paranavitana has played 32 Tests and averages 32.58.

Twenty-four-year-old Karunaratne steered his side to victory against New Zealand in his only Test with an unbeaten 60 in Galle and made 40 against the Australian Chairman's XI in Canberra.

"Paranavitana has played 30-odd Tests, Dimuth's pretty fresh, he's played just one Test match but he's shown a lot of intent," Sangakkara said.

"So I think it will be a tough battle to grab that opening spot."


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