Nottingham: It is often said that you can tell a lot by someone’s body language. As the Indian captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni trudged off with India in a precarious position of 184 for six. The lead was only 144, still 78 overs left in the day, it was gloomy, the ball was swinging and India was in a trough having only scored 17 runs in 13 overs.
It was far from an ideal situation for a debutant Stuart Binny to walk in to bat especially given his inclusion in the playing XI could scarcely be justified.
In the first innings, he had failed with the bat, when his turn came to bowl, he was utilised in form of a part-timer, bowling the ‘fill in’ overs. The confidence barometer would have been sub-zero. Binny strode out, crossed paths with the departing batsman well inside the field of play.
First ball was a confident forward defence, not a nervous prod. Second ball, his front foot stride resembled that of his batting hero, Rahul Dravid.
Even though the ball hit the inner edge, as it trickled to through the congestion of leg side fielders, he noticed the ball was in a gap and called early to complete a single. Few balls later, Liam Plunket sent down a gift wide off the off stump and Binny in a positive mindset, played a lovely shot for three. In the next Plunket over, Binny executed a fluent cover drive for four.
The Bangalore man was showing he was capable of handling Test cricket and playing an innings that summed up his character. The most impressive aspect of his innings was that he pounced on every scoring opportunity and played accordingly to the situation.
During his innings of 78, Binny display a full range of strokes and definitely justified his selection. The last time India played an all-rounder of a similar mould as Binny in England was Sanjay Bangar. Like Binny he didn't feature heavily on the scorecard but played a gutsy innings (68 off 236 balls) to ensure India fared well in the Leeds Test of the 2002 series.
Binny might not play another Test again this series or perhaps ever, but his assured innings ensured India's recent disastrous starts was avoided. The relevance of the innings can only be judged at the end of this series. Yesterday though, he certainly proved to be a team player.