Rest of India captain Harbhajan Singh praised Stuart Binny's attacking hundred on the second day of the Irani Cup, saying the Karnataka allrounder's ton took the match away from his team. Karnataka were 188 for 4 when Binny walked out and by the time he completed his hundred, Karnataka had taken a lead of 147 runs with six wickets to spare.
"A lot of credit must go to Stuart Binny," Harbhajan said. "The way he batted, he took the game away from us. Our seamers tried their best and it didn't happen, the way it happened for Karnataka. The ball did swing and did quite a lot when Karnataka was bowling yesterday and now the wicket is good [for batting]."
Three of the five ROI bowlers boast international experience, but Binny peppered the boundaries against all of them, dealing disdainfully with both pace and spin. Apart from giving credit to Binny, Harbhajan said that the wicket had "changed a lot" since yesterday, when ROI were bowled out for 201.
"The wicket has changed quite a lot from yesterday to today," Harbhajan said. "Yesterday it was quite damp, it was a double-paced wicket and today the ball was coming nicely to the bat. It did swing in the morning session and even in the afternoon when the ball had some shine on it. But once the ball was old, that's what probably Binny was looking for and he got the right scenario - the ball was old, the wicket was not doing much. He played good shots against the spinners and also with the new ball he played some cracking shots against the fast bowlers as well."
What came as a surprise was that Harbhajan brought himself into the attack only after 45 overs, by which time Karnataka had crossed 150 with the batsmen looking settled and no moisture left in the pitch. Harbhajan said he wanted to give maximum time to the pace bowlers, who were better suited to the conditions.
"We wanted to use the conditions," Harbhajan said. "We saw throughout the game the seamers bowled most of the overs and took wickets and when the ball was hard we wanted to use our seamers. The wicket had a lot for seamers but unfortunately we didn't get those many wickets.
"Whether I would have come early to bowl… there was hardly anything for spinners on this wicket. All you can do is bowl in the right areas and there's not much bounce on the wicket. That's what I was looking to do and I bowled pretty well and I'm quite happy with the way I bowled on this wicket apart from that one over before tea where I went for 13-14 runs."
Karnataka opener Ganesh Satish, who fell for 84, faced a spell from Harbhajan and Anureet Singh after lunch in which they pulled down the scoring rate. Harbhajan conceded only 14 runs in seven overs before removing Satish.
"At that time Harbhajan started bowling really well," Satish said. "He got his line and there were about two overs when I didn't get any runs. That period was a little difficult and I thought I'll play out that period for some time."
Satish, on the back of a hundred in the Ranji Trophy final, started confidently on the second morning, scoring freely despite accurate spells from Pankaj Singh and Ashok Dinda.
"I didn't really go after the attack as such," Satish said. "They bowled a little on the stumps today, so I could play a lot more. Yesterday I was trying to leave a lot more and it was swinging a lot more yesterday. Today, it didn't swing that much initially so when they were bowling on the stumps, I was trying to make use of it. I was trying not to play away from the body, I was trying to play as close as possible and with soft hands, so I think that helped."
Satish didn't look too pleased when he was given out caught behind off Harbhajan. But he only smiled on being asked about the umpire's decision and didn't say whether he thought it was a good decision or not.
"I can't say much about that," he said after the match.