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Why had Stuart Binny been picked in this Test? It was probably not with a match-saving innings in mind, but that's what he produced just when India were threatening to topple apart
Sidharth Monga at Trent Bridge
July 13, 2014
Highlights: Binny struck a composed 78 on Test debut to ensure a draw at Trent Bridge
At 3.42pm, Stuart Binny let one Moeen Ali offbreak turn past his inside edge and was given out lbw. Immediately the traffic on the player page of Andy Ganteaume came down. Ganteaume is the only man who was dropped and never picked again after scoring a debut century, although Rodney Redmond had one hundred in one Test but he would have played again barring contact lens problems.
Binny had fallen 22 short of a century on debut after four days of giving the impression India had made a selection error and were playing with 10 men only. It was a century for the taking after the match had been saved and enough time of gentle part-time spin remained, but trivia lovers had to rein in their horses.
At 12.15pm, such trivia was not on anyone's mind. India had somehow managed to get into a position where they were hanging in desperately to save this match. Three specialist batsmen had fallen, and Ravindra Jadeja was batting as if blindfolded with one arm tied behind his back. At effectively 145 for 6, with two-and-a-half sessions to go, India now looked to a man that had been invisible on the field for the first four days. He was brought in to the side to bowl some steady seam and get an extra half batsman in the lower middle order.
Binny played a nervous shot in the first innings to get out for 1, and then looked so innocuous with the ball he bowled only 10 overs in the innings while his role was to bowl 10 in a day. Suddenly he walked in for what the team would have looked at as the most important innings of the Test. Binny was not even playing for his place in the side, for there were no guarantees he would be retained even if he scored a hundred here. He needed to play a team innings. Go on, lad, this could be your last innings; how do you want to be remembered?
Binny might or might not play ever again, but at least he will not be remembered as the selection error in a Test that India made quite a few other errors to lose to England. At various stages India switched off to find themselves trying to save the Test that you would have to play exceptionally poorly to lose.
Binny came in with a mix of nerves and energy. Allowance should be made for the fact that the most incisive spells of James Anderson and Stuart Broad were all but over, but Binny moved positively, showed he could bat, but was also part of two near run-outs. It almost seemed he did not fancy the strike too much at the start of the innings. The first single he took to get off the mark was tight. The next single he took could have been two, but Binny sent Jadeja back. An over later the third he took was a late decision, and Jadeja nearly got run out.
After that, Binny was in, and took the pressure off Jadeja, who had been playing and missing regularly. If Binny is retained, there could be a case for batting him higher in the order. The key part of Binny's innings was the scoring rate and the positive stroke-play. However, it was not based on reckless shots. MS Dhoni's shot to get out - across the line to the first ball bowled by someone other than Anderson or Broad - was reckless and showed clearly he had premeditated to try to hit Liam Plunkett off his rhythm. Binny batted naturally, and was obviously helped along by a flat and slow pitch.
The quality of the innings is hard to tell on such a pitch, but the value of it is obvious. This is only the fourth time out of 17 that India have not begun an England tour with a loss. On the other three occasions India went on to win the series. India will need to improve drastically if they are to keep that pattern going - it will be hard to get such favourable pitches, win the toss, and have good starts in the other Tests of the series - but Binny has - by fulfilling part of his role - made sure it will not be easy to drop him.
It will come down to the conditions at Lord's, and it should also come down to if the team feels Binny could be relied upon on the first four days to provide the main bowlers a break or if the conditions here hampered him in that pursuit.
Even if Binny does not play Test cricket again, it will not be down to attitude. Ganteaume was left out because he allegedly batted too slow despite team instructions and cost West Indies the time they could have used to force a Test win. The team said Ganteaume failed them. Binny, on the other hand, did his team job all right at least on the final day; it was when going for the personal glory that he failed.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Sidharth Monga
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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