After being excluded from India’s Test squad for the upcoming New Zealand series, Stuart Binny responded by coming out with all guns blazing in the Duleep Trophy final at Greater Noida.
Up against a humongous first-innings total, India ‘Red’ resumed from their overnight score of 16/2 with Shikhar Dhawan and Yuvraj Singh looking to patch together a rescue act. The latter finally got off the mark after dead-batting 26 deliveries even as Pankaj Singh continued to bowl a probing channel.
Realizing that Yuvraj preferred to face spin early on, India ‘Blue’ skipper Gautam Gambhir brought back Abhimanyu Mithun at the other end. The Karnataka seam bowler rewarded him by prising out the veteran with a back of length delivery.
Soon, Dhawan followed suit while attempting a reverse sweep off the metronomic Ravindra Jadeja as Mayank Agarwal gobbled up a stunning catch at short leg. In walked Binny with the scorecard reading 67/4. However, the all-rounder appeared to be uncomfortable when Pankaj tested his judgment outside the off-stump. Meanwhile, Gurkeerat Singh was motoring along by piercing the gaps with precision.
Shortly before the end of the session, Binny had to endure some nervous moments as Karn Sharma seemed to have him trapped in front. To the bowler's dismay, umpire Shamsuddin's finger did not go up despite a vociferous appeal.
As Gurkeerat brought up his fifty, he joined in on the action as well by unfurling the sweep shot against Jadeja. But, the partnership was broken before it could blossom by an unplayable one from the left-arm spinner. Having witnessed half his side trudge back into the pavilion with still 363 runs required to save the follow-on, Binny took the attack to Gambhir's side by resorting to innovative methods against the turning ball.
Acknowledging the fact that impending dew could make life difficult for spinners to grip the pink ball, he ventured out off his crease to target the mid wicket region even as serendipity kept assisting him with Gambhir shelling a difficult chance this time.
When Karn tried to lure him into the drive, Binny went with the spin and lofted the leg-spinner over the cover boundary. Suddenly, the momentum started to shift as India ‘Red’ crawled back into the contest. The 32-year old persisted in his endeavor of going over the top by utilizing a combination of supple wrists and nimble footwork.
However, the urge to manufacture switch-hits and reverse-sweeps nearly got him into trouble. Surprised by the sharp turn, he was once again let off after the third umpire ruled a tight call in his favor. A mere two runs separating him from a well deserved century, Binny’s day eventually came to an end after being deceived by the extra drift from Jadeja.
But, his counter-attack had set the stage for Amit Mishra and Kuldeep Yadav to frustrate India ‘Blue’ by throwing their bats around without any sense of inhibition. The spin duo forged another useful partnership to bring the deficit down to 337 which convinced a cautious Gambhir to not enforce the follow-on.