MS Dhoni described Subramaniam Badrinath as the "unsung hero" of the team after the fluent right-hander guided his home franchise to their first win outside of Chennai this season.
Capped just five times at international level, the 30-year-old showed his class yesterday by making an unbeaten 63 off 44 balls and sharing in a stand of 65 off 7.5 overs with Suresh Raina to power the Super Kings to an eight-wicket victory over Pune Warriors
"Badri is the unsung hero for us," Dhoni said. "He has always contributed, and from every position in the middle order. Suresh too curbed his instincts and made sure the team crosses the line."
Dhoni was also full of praise for Doug Bollinger, the Australian pace bowler who took three wickets, including the scalp of the dangerous Jessie Ryder. "Douggie was outstanding, and other bowlers did well too," Dhoni said. "Our fielders are improving, as a unit."
The defeat was the fourth in a row for Pune and they now need to win at least five out of their last eight games to stand a chance of qualifying.
They would have fancied their chances of defending their total of 141 for six when they bowled two maidens in the first five overs but they were not decisive enough during the sixth and 14th overs.
Yuvraj Singh, however, laid the blame for the defeat with the batsmen. "We didn't apply ourselves with the bat," he said.
"We keep making the same mistakes. We lost too many wickets at the start and couldn't get a good score. We need to bounce back and not make the same mistakes again and again."
Pune made a wretched start, losing four top-order wickets for 41 inside eight overs.
Bollinger dismissed openers Ryder (19 off 12 balls) and Mohnish Mishra in quick succession while Manish Pandey and Mithun Manhas fell to Tim Southee and Nuwan Kulasekara respectively.
Yuvraj and Robin Uthappa briefly halted the fall of wickets, but the right-hander could not capitalise on the start and succumbed to Ravi Ashwin after hitting 31 off 22 including two sixes and two boundaries.
Yuvraj and new man Mitchell Marsh took the team past 100 in the 16th over, and just when the pair appeared to be set to launch Bollinger dismissed Marsh.
* Compiled by The National staff with agencies