Classy Badrinath stars in easy win
Chennai Super Kings 145 for 2 (Badrinath 63*) beat Pune Warriors 141 for 6 (Yuvraj 62*, Bollinger 3-21) by eight wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Who said there is no room for a purist in the IPL? S Badrinath walked into a tricky situation, took ownership of the chase of 142 without playing a single ugly shot, and finessed Chennai Super Kings to No. 2 in the IPL table. His effort came after Chennai's seamers made exemplary use of the extra bounce on the DY Patil strip to restrict Pune Warriors to an under-par score, despite a well-paced 62 from Yuvraj Singh.
Badrinath's virtuoso effort made the total seem woefully inadequate though Chennai dawdled listlessly until he came in. Badrinath isn't your typical IPL hero. His upright stance, clean feet movement, classical backlift and high-elbow follow-through are all made for Test cricket. Yet, he has managed to find a niche for himself in Chennai's muscular top order. Today he unfurled an IPL innings of rare beauty: there were no cross-batted slogs, no cheeky lap-scoops to deliveries landed outside off, and not once was he caught napping on the front foot to a short ball.
Chennai are not fond of chasing, and today it was evident why. M Vijay and Michael Hussey began too cautiously and the result was 14 dot-balls in the first four overs. Hussey then heaved Murali Kartik to midwicket where Manish Pandey took a tumbling catch. Badrinath earned a promotion ahead of the out-of-form Suresh Raina, and the swap helped both batsmen.
Chennai had crawled to 39 for 1 in eight overs when Badrinath decided to counter-punch. He trotted out to Kartik and launched him for four through long-off. Kartik tossed the next ball further up, and Badrinath carved him inside-out for a six. Badrinath came out again later in the over, hoodwinking Kartik into dropping short, and then glided him to third man. The over went for 16, and in next over, Badrinath opened up the off side again, lofting Yuvraj for six more. Seventy-seven required off 60, and Chennai did not look back from there.
Rahul Sharma thought he had got Badrinath to edge the first ball of the 11th behind, but the umpire gave it not out and replays were inconclusive. Vijay managed to swipe Jesse Ryder over midwicket but his scratchy innings ended in typical fashion when he holed out against a slow legcutter. Badrinath carried on as if nothing had happened, angling near-yorkers to third man and drilling half-volleys to the straight boundary. Suresh Raina ended the contest in the 18th over, muscling Jerome Taylor for sixes over long-off.
In reality, Pune lost the match in the first half itself. Ryder fell top-edging an effort ball from Doug Bollinger that rose quickly from short of a length. Mohnish Mishra perished to the pull as well, not bothering to adjust to the length after plonking his front foot forward. Nuwan Kulasekara then dismissed Mithun Manhas with a trademark inducker that squeezed between bat and pad to disturb the leg bail. Manish Pandey departed to a replay of Mishra's brain-fade, cross-batting Tim Southee off the front foot straight to mid-on, as Pune stumbled to 41 for 4.
Yuvraj survived a loose flail at a Kulasekara offcutter first ball. He thumped the next delivery, one of the few over-pitched by Kulasekara, through cover. Thereafter he settled in carefully, and set himself for a late assault. Meanwhile, Robin Uthappa tried to dominate spin, and managed to cart R Ashwin for sixes before falling to his carom ball for the second time in three days. Yuvraj opened up after Uthappa's fall, lifting Ashwin with the angle over midwicket before launching Doug Bollinger straight for the shot of the afternoon. He slammed Tim Southee for two sixes in the last over as Pune finished their innings with a flourish. Their last five overs yielded 50, but it was not good enough. What Pune missed was a batsman with the technical excellence and mental fortitude of Badrinath to support Yuvraj.
Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo