Stuart Binny had all the time in the world. It was just after lunch on the third day against Assam, and the 32-year-old was just four runs short of a ninth first-class century. It’s routine for a batsman on that score to nudge the ball into gaps and complete the milestone with four singles or even a brace of doubles.
But this was Stuart Binny, one of the cleaner strikers of the ball in the domestic circuit. There would be no unattractive singles for the Karnataka all-rounder. Instead, he reverse-swept off-spinner Gokul Sharma with practised grace for a boundary. Off came the helmet and up went his raised bat.
Burying the tension of reaching the three-figure mark, he stepped out on the very next ball and clobbered the overpitched delivery over mid-wicket. This was his preferred method of batting until he perished on156 – his runs coming at almost run-a-ball. With such a strike rate in the longer form of the game, you could be forgiven to wonder why the all-rounder is often in contention for the national team’s Test squad rather than limiter-over versions. “A lot of people tell that to me. I would love to play more ODIs, but the way I see it, it’s about getting the opportunity, and when it comes, to take it with both hands,” he says.
By the time he strode out, Karnataka were already in a formidable position, courtesy of Robin Uthappa and Karun Nair’s 257-run partnership. Binny then forged a solid 105-run stand with CM Gautam. But while he kept losing partners, Binny kept scoring. “It was crucial for me to get a 100 since I had missed out against Delhi. That played on my mind because the selections are round the corner for the Tests (against England). That’s why I wanted to carry on,” he adds.
In his 158-ball innings, Binny exhibited his clean-striking skill, finding the boundary at will through an array of cover-drives, flicks, cuts and that particular reverse sweep. Then there was the huge straight drive over the head of pacer Krishna Das that thumped the centre of the sight-screen. Later, Assam then came into bat for the remaining 18 overs of the day, scoring 48 and losing Rishav Das to a Shreyas Gopal delivery.
Brief Scores: Assam 325 & 48/1 vs Karnataka 570/9 Decl. (Binny 156, Nair 145, Uthappa 128; Arup Das 4/86).