Shikhar Dhawan continued his blazing form as he lead Sunrisers Hyderabad to the main round of the Champions League T20 after a crushing seven-wicket victory over Pakistan's Faisalabad Wolves by seven wickets in their second qualifying round match in Mohali, on Wednesday.
Indian cricket's latest batting sensation's love affair with Mohali continued as he smashed 59 off 50 balls to help Sunrisers cruise to the modest victory target of 128 in only 17.3 overs.
Dhawan hit six fours and a six during his match-winning knock.
With back to back victories, Sunrisers Hyderabad joined New Zealand's Otago Volts in the main draw while Faisalabad Wolves and Kandurata Maroons of Sri Lanka bowed out of the tournament. The last of the double headers in the qualifying round has thus been rendered inconsequential.
Dhawan, who has been in dream form, repeatedly pierced the off-side cordon starting with a cracking square cut. He also hit a frontfoot cover drive off pacer Samiullah Khan and a backfoot punch off Saeed Ajmal. A flurry of boundaries from Dhawan and ably complemented by Parthiv Patel (23) helped the Sunrisers to kill the competition by the end of Powerplay of six overs.
It looked as if Dhawan started from where he left during his knock of 71 against Kandurata Maroons on Tuesday.
At the end of six overs, Sunrisers were 51 for no loss and the match was all about the two openers matching each other stroke for stroke.
A lot was expected off Ajmal but he looked out of sync and both the openers didn't have any problems in negotiating his bowling.
Wolves got the first breakthrough when Patel couldn't execute a pull-shot perfectly off pacer Ehsan Adil's bowling. The delivery was short but Parthiv's pull went straight
into the hands of Khurram Manzoor at mid-wicket. The opening pair put on 69 runs for the first wicket.
But Dhawan didn't face too many problems as he completed his second successive half-century by stepping out to left-arm spinner Imran Khalid and dispatching him to the deep mid-wicket boundary. As if to celebrate the feat, Dhawan stepped out yet again to hit a six off the very next ball.
Khalid had the last laugh as a fast low delivery beat Dhawan to rattle the stumps. However the match as a contest was over by then.
Earlier, disciplined effort from Sunrisers Hyderabad bowlers saw them restrict Pakistan's Faisalabad Wolves to a modest 127 for five.
Skipper Misbah ul-Haq again top-scored for his side with an unbeaten knock of 56 off 40 balls with the help of five sixes and a boundary.
India leg-spinner Amit Mishra was easily the best bowler on view with economical figures of one for 13 from four overs. He bowled as many as 17 dot balls during his excellent spell.
Darren Sammy (1/14 from 2 overs), Ishant Sharma (1/26 in 4 overs), Karan Sharma (1/11 in 2 overs), Thisara Perera (1/33 in four overs) all got a wicket apiece as Faisalabad were never allowed to break free.
Put into bat, the Wolves openers Ammar Mahmood (31) and Ali Waqas (16) added 48 runs for the first wicket but they consumed seven overs in the process. While Mahmood played 38 balls hitting four boundaries, Waqas faced 21 balls.
It was Mishra who drew the first blood for the Sunrisers when he forced the frustrated Waqas to go for a wild slog only to be caught in the deep.
Asif Ali (0) got a flipper from Karan and was adjudged leg before wicket in the very next over.
From 48 for no loss, it soon became 69 for three with Mahmood being removed by Sammy when tried to scoop one shuffling across to the off-stump but was caught.
Skipper Misbah did hit a few big sixes -- the first off leggie Karan over deep mid-wicket while the next big hit came off Mishra over long-on. The third six was off Sammy's bowling hit in the same region. The fourth was another hit over long-on which just flew over Sammy on the ropes.
The fifth six -- one where he whipped Perera over deep fine leg brought up his half-century from 36 balls. But lack of support from other batsmen meant that Wolves were short of par score on a batting friendly track.
Image: Shikhar Dhawan