The Sunrisers Hyderabad were posed quite a question by Kandurata Maroons - a team filled with Sri Lankan internationals - in their Champions League T20 qualifier on Tuesday, and how well they answered it.
Sunrisers skipper Shikhar Dhawan plays a pull shot to the onside against Kandurata Maroons in their Champions League T20 game, September 17
Shikhar Dhawan and Parthiv Patel put on the perfect opening partnership to make the 169-run target set by Kandurata look like child's play.
The Sri Lankan side looked in pole position after Kumar Sangakkara (61 n.o.) and Lahiru Thirimanne helped Kandurata to 168 for three from 20 overs.
However, on a pitch that was suitable for batsmen, the Sunrisers, not known in the IPL for their batting prowess, did not put one foot wrong as Dhawan (71, 53b, 11x4) and Patel (52, 42b, 7x4) put on 121 in ridiculous time to help their side to a convincing win with the Sunrisers finishing on 174 for two with nine balls to spare.
The Sunrisers join Otago at the top of the table after the New Zealand side had planted themselves on pole earlier following their win over Faisalabad Wolves.
With 169 runs to get, the onus was always going to be on Dhawan, named skipper for the tournament, and like he has done so often for India in the last year or so, he pulverized the Kandurata bowling with his own inimitable elegance.
Patel also gave Dhawan, the undoubted man of the match, very good company and even managed some glorious shots of his own as the Kandurata bowlers were left wondering just what had gone wrong.
The wicketkeeper-batsman holed out at long-on off Shehan Jayasuriya with the Sunrisers on 121 from 13.4 overs, needing another 48 runs from 6.1 overs.
The equation was whittled down to 33 from four overs, with Dhawan and J.P. Duminy at the crease.
Dhawan went for a reverse sweep in the first ball of the 17th over off Ajantha Mendis -- who he had targeted all game -- but only managed to find Nuwan Kulasekara behind point.
Thisara Perera, who had a torrid time with the ball, walked in to face his fellow Sri Lankans and started proceedings off with a massive six and then a four to ease the slight pressure that was building.
Another couple of big hits from Perera (32, 11b, 4x4, 2x6) later and the match was over as the Sunrisers celebrated a big win.
The first innings saw the Sri Lankan left-handed band take charge quite brilliantly. While openers Upul Tharanga and Jayasuriya did not exactly set the world on fire, the experienced duo of Thirimanne and Sangakkara more than made up for it with a splendid partnership.
Dale Steyn was not in his elements against Kandurata, giving away 15 runs in his very first over to set the tone for the rest of the innings.
Tharanga (10, 18b, 4x4) and Jayasuriya (4) did not quite kick on from that big opening, with both openers falling in the space of an over. The former was the first to go, getting a thin outside edge to Parthiv Patel off Ishant Sharma, who finished with the Sunrisers' best figures of 4-0-20-2.
Jayasuriya followed suit soon after, another outside edge, this time off Darren Sammy, resulting in his demise.
However, from there it was all Kandurata as Sangakkara, playing against his IPL side, oozed class alongside his skipper Thirimanne.
The two put together 89 runs in just 11.5 overs, as the Sunrisers Hyderabad's usually strong bowling failed to show up.
Novice skipper Shikhar Dhawan might have also missed a trick in just giving one over to Amit Mishra, one of the best bowlers of last season's IPL, with the former worried about the number of left-handers in the Sri Lankan side's lineup - Five of the top six batsmen were left-handers.
The likes of Thisara Perrera, Sammy and even Steyn went helter-skelter as Kandurata took advantage of the pace of the ball.
Ishant castled Thirimanne with a yorker in the 16th over, but that brought in Dilhara Lokuhettige, who played a quickfire 10-ball 21 (2x4, 1x6) to take Kandurata to a strong total alongside the brilliant Sangakkara (61 n.o., 46b, 7x4).
It seemed very much like a defendable total, but the Sunrisers made mincemeat of the Kandurata bowling to make the chase look extremely easy.
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