Chennai v Punjab, IPL 2013, Chennai May 2, 2013

Badrinath, Super Kings' go-to man

S Badrinath isn't too affected by the lack of batting opportunities in the IPL as long as his team, Chennai Super Kings, is winning matches

Balance is S Badrinath's forte on and off the field. When it comes to the topic of him hardly getting a knock for table-toppers Chennai Super Kings in the sixth edition of the IPL, that balance comes to the fore.

"To be honest, it is definitely not easy. To not be able to bat every game [while] playing as a batsman is something that's really not enjoyable," Badrinath said a day after Super Kings beat Pune Warriors. "I think I've got used to it a little bit, even though I would love to get more knocks and contribute with the bat."

"Fortunately, we have a strong batting line-up. We have some of the best Twenty20 batsmen in our line-up, so with the flexibility that we have in our batting order, whenever we get off to a good start, I know it's difficult for me to get a look-in. And I would always put the team's priority over my personal aspirations."

Badrinath, along with captain MS Dhoni and IPL's highest run-getter, Suresh Raina, has been a constant in virtually every Super Kings game. While Raina has batted in 87 innings in 91 matches and Dhoni has played 77 innings in 88 matches, Badrinath has played 64 innings in 87 matches.

The difference is prominent when Badrinath's statistics are compared to players with the most IPL appearances. With 87 matches, Badrinath shares the fourth spot along with Virat Kohli, behind Raina (91 games), Dhoni and Rohit Sharma (88 each). None of these batsmen, except Badrinath, have played less than 75 innings.

At the end of IPL 2011, Badrinath had had a bat in 50 of the 62 matches he played. Last year saw him get nine knocks in 15 appearances while this year he has taken guard in just five of Super Kings' 10 games so far.

These numbers have a lot to do with his role at Super Kings as well. Badrinath has been utilised primarily as a rescue man, someone who walks in whenever Super Kings lose a couple of early wickets.

"Whenever the openers get going, it gets difficult [for me] to get a bat," he said. "During IPL 2009, in South Africa, Matthew Hayden was in such stupendous form that once he got his eye in, he was finishing games for us. That made it difficult for me to get a bat consistently.

"Similarly, Michael Hussey has been in such great form this year that he has been playing the sheet anchor and the aggressor's roles to perfection. And with Dhoni being phenomenal with the bat, I don't mind not contributing in terms of runs to the team's victory."

Against Warriors, he came in to bat after the openers had been dismissed early and his crucial 75-run stand with Raina set up a platform for Dhoni to finish the innings on a high note. Badrinath realises that, more often than not, he will end up being the silent contributor to the cause of the team. With the Super Kings outfit "remaining almost unchanged through the six seasons", players know their roles, with little room for confusion, he adds.

"T20 is a format where the top three batsmen invariably get the big scores," he said. "But even without big numbers, players can make significant contributions. I would rather see Super Kings at the top of the table, instead of batting in every match."

Badrinath, who made his debut against South Africa in 2010, was recalled to the national side for the Test series against New Zealand last year. However, he was dropped without being given an opportunity.

A prolific run-scorer at the domestic level, he entered IPL 2013 on the back of a mediocre season (by his standards), scoring 347 runs in six games at an average of 49.57. The IPL, thus, is the last opportunity this season for him to prove that he is still in form. But the 32-year-old isn't too concerned about it.

"Playing for Super Kings and playing for Tamil Nadu are two different things," he said. "And even though I have been able to get limited opportunities with the bat so far, the IPL isn't over yet.

"As for the Ranji season, it's true I haven't had a [typical] Badrinath season, but the fact that I missed two games due to injury can't be ignored. Besides, I don't understand the double standards that are applied. Why are those who have scored just about as many runs as me without missing a match considered to have had a very good season and why am I told otherwise? Why is it that for Badrinath, a good season means getting a thousand runs and for others, even 500 runs are exceptional?"

Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Senthil on May 4, 2013, 17:58 GMT

    Badri would have been treated worse by any other IPL team. CSK recognize his true worth and the fact that he lends them the sort of balance other teams don't have. Anything tricky, in walks Badri. 120 is a very decent strike rate when the man is doing his rescue work, people! There are front line batsmen going at that rate or below! He doesn't waste too many balls either, and is an asset in the field. This is one weapon CSK have that nobody really has the answer to. He just seems to benign, but can bring his team back into the game very quietly and judiciously. Respect!

  • Dummy4 on May 3, 2013, 7:33 GMT

    They are looking for some glamour not the cricketing skills. Especially in India you need to have a glamour to get into the Indian team. They will ignore the ppl like Laxman, Jaffar, Badri... Even this is happening at the state and district level. Lot of talents are ignored at the district level as they don't have someone to influence the district board.

  • sam on May 3, 2013, 7:04 GMT

    People talk how good Badri will be. People forget his half century against Steyn & Co. in India. In that innings I think I saw what I needed to see about Badri, not good enough to play test cricket. Not a class batsman. Edged the ball at least 20 times behind the wicket and 10 of them resulted in boundaries through 3rd man. Rayudu is a much better batsman (forget domestic average) than both him and Tiwary.

  • Dummy4 on May 3, 2013, 6:57 GMT

    Badri you deserve to play in the Indian Test Team.

  • Kannan on May 3, 2013, 6:42 GMT

    One has heard a lot of Baba Aparajit and he's somebody Dhoni can introduce for a few matches to check for international match temperament. I think ability to play selfless cricket and taking high risks to deliver at high scores at high strike rates - that's what T20 stars are all about. That's where Sachin, Rahane, Rayudu, Badrinath, etc suffer badly. They play at a poor strike rate in their effort to score a 40+. Contrast this with a Raina, Dhoni, Jadeja, Gayle, Rohit, etc who play out of their skin and have excellent strike rates especially in situations when the team needs to score at 10+ per over for a winnable score or when going for a win. The extent of risk a batsman takes is seen by the number of sixers he hits. It's not easy to play high risk shots and still keep performing consistently - Vijay of CSK is an example. Foreigners Gayle, Pollard, ABD, Faulkner, Miller, Warner, Michael and David Hussey, Eoin Morgan, Bravo and Sammy are particularly impressive this season.

  • Kannan on May 3, 2013, 6:27 GMT

    I think Badrinath, Sachin and all those with strike rates of about 120 odd are a liability in T20. Badrinath doesn't get to play, simply because of his poor strike rate and unwillingness (selfishness) to risk and push for runs even when the team needs him to strike out. With a poor bowling attack, CSK needs 170+ to win matches. Badrinath is retained only so as to retain the local Tamil flavor in CSK... I would rather that some other franchise pick him up ( at their own peril) for the next IPL. For balance - CSK needs Faf and Hussey to open with Raina, Dhoni, Jadeja and Bravo following. Mohit, Ashwin, 2 good death bowlers (non-Indian and Indian) and 1 good Indian batsman who can strike at more than 140. Vijay is too inconsistent and CSK can't make do scoring 7 runs per over in the first 10 overs! CSK needs to score 170+ to win and they can't always plan to score 100 runs off the last 10. Albie leaks runs and so does Ashwin whose job is to dry up runs and not give away sixes!

  • Vivekanand on May 3, 2013, 4:00 GMT

    Very well said Badri...double standards INDEED...but now its too late in the Test side... Openers spot is taken..with Dhawan assured of at least 10 more test matches... Pujara is doing well, Sachin is in no mood to hang his boots...i agree he is still the best option we have at no.4. Kohli is On and Off in test but given he is a fine bat in limited overs, he will get an extended run...then its Dhoni and Jadeja... So its very difficult in Indian conditions at least. on Tours, Jadeja could make way for Badri or Rahane...because Jadeja would be ineffective there...

    I feel bad for Badri...and I hope he doesnt become another S.Sharath...

    and he indeed is the unsung hero for CSK!!!

  • Navy on May 2, 2013, 23:40 GMT

    As ODIs came into mainstream, there was a greater acceptance of "finishers" - those who usually scored 30-40 but in a hurry at the end of the innings and won a match. As T20 matures further, people would stop comparing the performance of Badri with that of Hussey or Dhoni. Just like not everyone plays centre forward in football - you have mid fielders and defenders, you will have specific roles within a T20 team. CSK are amongst the first team to have identified that found the right people for the right positions. Hats off to Fleming. And mind you Badri's pricetag will not depend upon the runs he scores (just as a defender is not judged by the goals he scores) but how well he plays his specific role.

  • Fraser on May 2, 2013, 18:35 GMT

    he stops a collaspe of a order which fires 99% of the time but with hitters like Raina, Dhoni, Jadeja the order can collaspe with ease. Badri needs more recognition...