If Thursday’s Indian Premier League match against the Delhi Daredevils was important for S Badrinath to help the Chennai Super Kings seal a berth in the playoffs, it was equally crucial for the Tamil Nadu batsman to build a firm case for recall to the national team.
The stylish player managed to achieve both targets as his 50 — the fifth from nine innings in IPL 4 — aided by a blistering knock by skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, set up the Super Kings’ 18-run victory against the jaded Daredevils at the Chidambaram Stadium.
Every time the Super Kings have lost quick wickets at the top this season, Badrinath has been promoted to No. 4. It wasn't any different on Thursday. With Michael Hussey perishing to an incoming delivery by Irfan Pathan and Suresh Raina undone by Varun Aaron’s short ball, the onus was on Badrinath to hold the innings together.
Mr Crisis’ lived up to the billing with yet another sensible knock.
With Murali Vijay looking edgy at the other end, having being dropped by skipper James Hopes off Varun Aaron and by Shahbaz Nadeem off his own bowling, Badri had to come good if the Super Kings’ big hitters Dhoni and Albie Morkel were to come into play.
The moment Badri lofted Nadeem with his trademark cover drive — making room for himself by shuffling to his left before hitting the ball inside out — the CSK dugout heaved a sigh of relief.
Even though Vijay perished soon after, the scoring rate kept surging with Dhoni joining Badrinath.
Then on, till Dhoni finished the innings with two consecutive sixes off Irfan Pathan, the Daredevils were always on the back-foot.
Dhoni and Badri’s exploits in the last over, in which they plundered 37 runs off Ajit Agarkar, helped the Super Kings to 176 for four, and the Daredevils, sans Virender Sehwag, were as good as out of the game.
That’s what happened as despite cameos by Naman Ojha, who finally got an opportunity at the top of the order, and Venugopal Rao didn't turn out to be enough for them to cross the line.