MOHALI - On a day of captains and a night of left-hand batsmen, Shikhar Dhawan made his captaincy debut with Sunrisers Hyderabad an occasion to remember at the venue where he announced his arrival in international cricket.
Dhawan's magnificent 71 was easily the innings of the night as it put to shade half-centuries from three other left-hand batsmen - Parthiv Patel, Kumar Sangakkara and Lahiru Thirimanne, the Kandurata Maroons skipper - in the second qualifying match of the Champions League Twenty20 2013. Set a stiff target of 169 to chase, Hyderabad fairly coasted to victory, by the comfortable margin of eight wickets, riding on the back of Dhawan's pyrotechnics and his entertaining stand of 121 in 83 balls for the first wicket with Patel that set up the final tally of 174 for 2. Kandurata had reason to believe they were in with a shout when Thirimanne and Sangakkara associated themselves in an 89-run partnership to propel the total to 168 for 3, but Dhawan and Patel had other ideas, treating a very sparse crowd to spectacular strokeplay and making Kandurata's total appear no more than par for the course.
Patel was the early aggressor, taking the attack to Lahiru Jayaratne and Nuwan Kulasekara, but once Dhawan came to the party, Patel wisely stepped back and soaked in the entertainment from the best seat in the ground. Boundaries flowed with amazing regularity from Dhawan's willow, each stroke an epitome of timing rather than brute force. Kandurata had few answers to the frenetic pace of scoring, and even though both openers fell within 15 runs of each other, Thisara Perera got his own back after an expensive stint with the ball to bring up victory in some style.
Dhawan's decision to put Kandurata in was in part influenced by the possibility of dew, which eventually was a non-factor, but it was as if Dale Steyn, his premier strike bowler, was having a tough time gripping the ball. Steyn got gentle swing in his first over, but kept drifting down the leg to Upul Tharanga and went for 14, all on the on side.
BRIEF SCORES: Sunrisers Hyderabad 174- 2 (Dhawan 71, Patel 52) beat Kandurata Maroons 168-3 (61*, 54, Ishant 2-20) by eight wickets.