2011 IPL: A LOOK BACK
Chennai Super Kings put on a dominant show in season 4 to become the first team to bag a second straight Indian Premier League crown while also turning the Chidambaram Stadium into a fortress by winning all their home games.
“There obviously was a bit of pressure going into the season being the defending champs but we thrived on that pressure,” recollected Subramaniam Badrinath, who scored 396 runs including five fifties.
“We knew we had the best team and the best combinations... we had all bases covered and our confidence was really high,” Badrinath added.
The Lions won nine of 14 League games to finish second on the table with 18 points, one point behind toppers Royal Challengers Bangalore. Third-placed Mumbai Indians were tied on points with CSK but MS Dhoni’s side were ahead on Net Run Rate.
“We were unbeatable at home... even in difficult situations we knew we could defeat any opposition, such was our confidence levels, and frankly we played some unbelievable cricket,” said Badrinath.
Unlike the previous edition, when they qualified to the Playoffs on the back of a must-win final league outing, this time around the Lions roared into the Knockouts for the fourth straight edition by winning four of the first seven games and five in the second half.
While there were several fine individual performances in the league phase, the one that readily comes to mind is Dhoni’s 31-ball 63 not out against Delhi Daredevils at Chepauk.
“That was a special MS knock,” recounted Badrinath, who scored a fifty and put on 96 with the skipper to lift the hosts to a commanding 176/4. “It was a slow wicket, we had to dig in and fight it out, and then MS exploded.
“It was a very humid afternoon and both MS and I were profusely sweating owing to that. Overall, it was very satisfying for both of us.”
CSK lost to RCB in their final league game but, as it turned out, beat the same opposition in Qualifier 1 and again in the final after RCB made it to the title-clash by putting it across MI in Qualifier 2.
Suresh Raina scored an unbeaten 73 to set up the chase in the Qualifier and Albie Morkel blasted a 10-ball 28 not out at the finish to help CSK win by six wickets with two balls to spare at the Wankhede Stadium.
“We were in such good form that we knew we could chase down 176 and Raina batted beautifully,” said Badrinath, who made 34 in that game.
CSK became the first team to win the title at home after they ran up 205/5 on opting to bat. Murali Vijay made 95 and shared in a 159-run opening-wicket stand with Michael Hussey (63), who topped the side’s batting charts with 492 runs.
“Once we had the runs on the board we knew it was our game,” said Badrinath.
Opening the bowling, Ravichandran Ashwin’s first-over dismissal of Chris Gayle for a duck firmly tilted the match in Lions’ favour. The off-spinner led the side’s bowling honours for the season with 20 wickets.