S BADRINATH
Illustration- Vasim Maner

On June 4, 2011, at Port-of-Spain Trinidad, 30-year-old S Badrinath would have been satisfied. He had just represented his country in Twenty20 cricket for the first time, and he had got the Man-of-the-Match award for it. He had come in to bat at 48 for 2, but as wickets fell around him (56 for 4 at one stage), he had drawn into his primary strength as a batsman who could absorb pressure and stabilised the situation immaculately. By the time he was out (with the score at 134 with two overs to go), his 43 in 37 balls had taken India to a good position. His was the highest score of the match that had helped a Raina-led India (so, not quite full-strength) win the only T20I game in the series.

If those who had followed Badrinath’s career till then had been told that he wouldn’t play another T20I again in his career, despite this performance, they would perhaps not have been surprised. He has not exactly been fortune’s favourite child.

Many considered him to be an impending beneficiary when the stars of the famed Indian Test middle-order of the 2000s began to approach retirement. Badrinath’s outstanding first-class record suggested someone who could be there for the long haul. And yet, he ended up playing just 2 Tests, both against a formidable South Africa, averaging 21 in three innings. Still, his first Test innings was actually a gritty 56 against the likes of Steyn and Morkel, which was also the second-highest score in that innings by a distance.

Sometimes, even without the evidence of sample size, it is blindingly obvious someone deserves a longer rope.

His ODI record was genuinely poor though. But the grievous error that seems to have been made in his case is the mixing up of formats and pronouncing him mediocre in Tests and T20s on that utterly flawed evidence.

MASTER OF ABSORBING PRESSURE

This quality of absorbing pressure (of falling wickets) and stabilising the innings is Badrinath’s most prominent quality in the T20 format.

In fact, if we take 60 matches as the minimum, Badrinath has the fifth-highest Pressure Impact  amongst all Indian batsmen, across all Twenty20 domestic tournaments, including the IPL and Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament. Rohit Sharma, Ambati Rayudu, Mithun Manhas and Suresh Raina have absorbed more pressure than him.

It gets better in the IPL. Badrinath has the highest  Pressure Impact  in IPL history (min. 30 matches).

Chennai Super Kings was an all-conquering team and it is very unusual for a team like that to produce such a high  Pressure Impact  batsman. This basically means that CSK fell under pressure more than a few times, and Badrinath played a crucial role in the side to stabilise the situation.

He narrowly missed out on a tournament-defining performance for CSK where he again showed his prowess in a pressure situation, in IPL 2010.

Against defending champion Deccan Chargers in the semi-final, Badrinath came out to bat at 25 for 2, which soon became 29 for 3 as star batsman Raina was also dismissed. Badrinath kept the innings ticking as Dhoni took charge at the other end, and after Dhoni’s dismissal at 81 continued the good work. He was finally out for 37 off 41 balls – the highest score of the match, and played a big part in CSK reaching a total of 142 which won them the game comfortably.  They went on to win their first IPL title.

Thus, despite having a negative  Strike Rate Impact  (which means he did not even match the average strike rate in the matches he played in) and a 55% failure rate (which means he had an impact of less than 1 in 55% of the matches he played), Badrinath played a crucial role for CSK and deserves the sort of recognition he has not yet perhaps received.

 

 

Jaideep Varma/ Soham Sarkhel

NOTE: Impact Index has undergone an upgradation in November 2015, and though 95% of its findings remain the same, there have been some minor shifts. This piece was updated post that, and is up-to-date as of August 2016.