I tried everything but the batting was packed with Sachin, Rahul, Laxman, Sehwag: Former India cricketer S Badrinath
S Badrinath’s India career was cut short after just 10 matches. However, it doesn’t take anything away from his list of achievements as a batsman. In his short run with the Indian team in the early 2010s, Badrinath did everything – including scoring a match-winning 43 in his only T20I, but like his domestic peer Amol Mazumdar, he was perhaps plain unlucky to be playing for India in an era where the batting order was heavily stacked.
Looking back at his India career, Badrinath has more memories than regrets. However, he does feel had he changed his approach a bit, the batsman could have gotten a longer rope with the team. The Indian team at present may have no shortage of all-rounders with the presence of Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya and the youngster Shivam Dube.
But India did not have the privilege of those many options when Badrinath made his debut. Even the fifth bowler’s slot, which is occasionally filled by Kedar Jadhav, would be a challenge to find a contender for. The likes of Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina would fill in, but India lacked an all-rounder they could bank on. Badrinath, who was a pretty neat off-spinner, feels he could have aimed for the all-rounder’s spot, which could have stretched his India run to beyond 10 matches.
“I tried everything within my reach. The batting order was really packed with Sachin, Rahul, Laxman, Sehwag, Gambhir and Yuvraj,” Badrinath told Hindustan Times in an exclusive chat. “But one thing that I may have done was focus a bit on my bowling. I could have aimed for that allrounder’s slot because I was a pretty decent offspinner and I’d taken some wickets.
“I also didn’t have help at the time. Rather than focussing entirely on my batting, I could have fitted as an all-rounder – batting at No. 6 or 7, be a third spinning option. Batting wise, I couldn’t have done anything more. I did my best.”
Badrinath was a prolific batsman in First-Class cricket, scoring over 10,000 runs for Tamil Nadu, but it was his time with Chennai Super Kings that left an ever-lasting impression among fans. When Badrinath joined CSK, he enjoyed the reputation of being a batsman with solid technique and tremendous grit, which over time, to the batsman’s credit, improved to the ruthless challenges of T20 cricket.
Badrinath ended his IPL career with 1441 runs from 95 matches at an average of 30.65. Initially perceived a misfit for T20 cricket, Badrinath scored 356 runs in 2010 and almost 400 the season after. Badrinath’s role at CSK was to hold the innings together. Even though the first two seasons proved to be a bit of a dampener for the batsman, he made it up in the next two.
However, in hindsight, he needed some backing to prove his point and captain MS Dhoni was there for him. The CSK captain gave the old school batting of Badrinath wings in T20 cricket. His motto is simple – if the basics are strong, despite being technically solid, he/she can crack the code of batting in T20 cricket.
“T20 cricket… you need to play like this, hit the ball in the air, hit sixes all the time. It’s not true, because once you have a really basic solid game, you can play any game,” Badrinath said. “The prime example today is Kane Williamson. You see he is a proper batsman but he’s equally good in T20s. Same was with Michael Hussey.
“I always take these names. They are not the biggest hitters around but they’ve been really successful T20 cricketers. If you don’t have a strong basic game, you cannot play other formats – 50-over or Test cricket.”