Shikhar Dhawan has gone from strength to strength since he scored that swashbuckling century on Test debut against Australia in Mohali in March.
The left-hander, Sunrisers Hyderabad’s new skipper, has plundered runs across the three formats. If Champions Trophy saw him at his sublime best, the subsequent India A tour to South Africa cemented his place and showed how dangerous a batsman he could prove on his day.
“Once you score big runs at the start of your international career, you get really confident,” Dhawan had said before the start of the qualifiers. The confidence showed in the way he approached the innings, leading from the front, in chasing a tricky target of 169 set by Sri Lanka’s Kandurata Maroons.
Calm and collected
His unhurried and unwavering attitude towards batting has been the hallmark in his short career in the top flight. After playing himself in and scoring mostly in one’s and two’s, Dhawan opened up in the fourth over sent by Dilhara Lokuhettige, hitting two consecutive fours.
Once he had his eye in, he went hammer and tongs after spinner Ajantha Mendis, hitting three fours in the sixth over.
Combing well with Parthiv Patel, Dhawan stitched 121 runs for the first wicket. Patel made a 42-ball 52 while Dhawan scored 71 off 52 balls, studded with 11 fours.
A stroke-filled half-century by Kumara Sangakkara — who had opted for Maroons over Sunrisers — had guided his team to a competitive 168 for three in 20 overs. His contribution in the match was always going to the talking point.
Maroons also thrived on a wayward Dale Steyn, coming off a long injury layoff. However, Ishant Sharma was bang on target, taking two wickets for 20 runs.