Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town
Stuart Binny has been a professional cricketer for more than a decade, and an international one for 18 months. Yet in 10 one-day internationals before this one he'd never really had the chance to show what he's capable of with the bat. In the first ODI against Zimbabwe, Binny walked out with his side in deep trouble at 87 for 5 - but importantly there was still half the innings to be played, and he had time to express himself fully with a career-best 77 at better than a run a ball.
"I've played 10 ODIs and I haven't had the opportunity to bat more than five or six overs," Binny said. "It was a great opportunity for me to go and spend some time in the middle and try and get as much as we could."
Binny didn't have it all his way at the start of his innings. With Chamu Chibhabha in the middle of a parsimonious spell of medium pace, Binny suppressed his attacking instincts for a good half hour before biffing legspinner Graeme Cremer over long-on for six. Slowly but surely Binny and his partner, centurion Ambati Rayudu, eased India back into the game.
"We didn't set any totals when we went into bat, we just wanted to bat the next 10 overs and try not to lose any more wickets. It was a bit tough, but the wicket started to ease out a bit. Once you were set you could rotate the strike a bit more and play a few shots. But we just wanted to bat the first ten overs."
The pair eventually added 160 for the sixth wicket - a record for India - and combined to help India reap 90 runs from the last 10 overs as the hosts' attack grew increasingly ragged. The match was ultimately a close one, with India winning by just four runs, and Binny stressed upon the advantage of having set batsmen in the crease at the death.
"The difference was when we were batting it was me and Rayudu both set at that point of time, but [Zimbabwe] had one batsman set and the other one was trying to rotate the strike so two didn't go hard at the same time. But when we were batting we set the platform. We had batsmen in the shed who could go, and we were both set on 60-plus. If you're set you've got to take it as far as you can."
With all of the matches on this tour being played at Harare Sports Club, it's likely that India will have to overcome bowler-friendly conditions again, and Binny suggested that a healthy respect for the new ball was needed.
"If we get a chance to bat up front again early in the morning it's crucial, with the Dukes ball that does swing and seam a bit, that we've got to give the bowlers a lot more respect, compared to playing with the Kookaburra ball in other ODIs. If you can get through the first 15 overs without losing more than a wicket or two, then we've got the firepower to get 300 in an ODI."