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Stuart Binny and the selection conundrum for India’s third Test against England at Southampton

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Stuart Binny scored an excellent 78 on debut, but has done little of note apart from that © Getty Images

After a match-saving innings at Trent Bridge, it was back to square one as Stuart Binny failed to impress in the memorable Lord’s Test. Abhijit Banare analyses Binny and the frequent questions over his role in the team.

Remember Ajinya Rahane’s Test debut last year at Kotla? Very few would. The nervous debutant scraped through to seven and conceded his wicket easily. In the second essay, with just 155 to win and whitewash Australia, Rahane got out to a silly shot charging down to a spinner and throwing his wicket away. The India Test cap comes after rigorous toil and Rahane certainly had to wait for far too long for the moment. In the end, things fell apart as commentators went critical on-air about his dismissal. Some even suggesting that was the last of Rahane in Tests.

Only six Tests and a little over a year later, Rahane has dislodged Rohit Sharma and become the solid No 5 with two overseas Test tons to his name. What’s the connection with Stuart Binny? Once a selection is made, making blind shots about the competence of the cricketer on a match-by-match basis is the last thing one should do to a Test cricketer.

Already facing questions over his selection to a Test tour, Binny was looked at as a bowling all-rounder after his exploits in Bangladesh. He was supposed to be the extra teeth in the pace attack on seaming conditions. Two Tests later, Binny has bowled 20 overs for 82 runs and has seen what would have been his maiden wicket go between Shikhar Dhawan and MS Dhoni in the cordon. On the other hand, he defied expectations to score a match-saving 78 on debut.

Yet, the reason he was picked was the assistance he was expected to get in seaming conditions, which he hardly did as a result of being largely ignored by the skipper. This has left him to show his mettle only with the bat. Much of his role in the team seems out of place. Currently, he is an under-used seamer who bats at No 7 or No 8.

Many fail to notice that Binny, like Jadeja, is a free-flowing batsman sans the impulsive instinct of Jadeja to have a go at everything. Binny’s First-Class batting too indicates his habit of scoring quickly rather than play an innings of dogged resistance.

Ask Cheteshwar Pujara or the reformed Murali Vijay, 78 off 114 balls is certainly a very aggressive innings in a Test match under pressure. Lord’s was just another day where the shot didn’t come off. The only noticeable thing Binny achieved at Lord’s was to score identical figures as his dad did in 1986 – nine from 19 balls.

Is Ashwin ideal for Third Test at Southampton?

Even before the match day, it has been predicted that Ageas Bowl, Southampton will be a green track and is sure to see a result-oriented match. In such conditions, Binny could be a handful. With the ball, Binny has shown that he is a good medium pacer, and not really a part timer, as he is perceived to be.

On the other hand, the green track might be misleading like Lord’s, and might as well end up turning towards the end. Whatever the conditions be, Binny’s selection on a seamer-friendly venue ahead makes sense only if the captain is willing to use him more often. This is not the first instance where Dhoni has ignored a particular bowler. But Binny’s selection makes sense only if he is keen to use him. Perhaps the answer lies in the presentation ceremony after Lord’s where Dhoni praised Ravichandran Ashwin’s batting out of the blue!

Binny beyond England series?

It’s tough to imagine Binny being part of this team on home tracks. Jadeja and Ashwin have formed a spin combo on turning wickets at home. The conditions in Australia are unlikely to favour Binny either. He might still be an ace card for limited overs matches, but a Test spot still looks dodgy. It’s best left to the selectors and the captain to make good use of the player.

Complete coverage of India’s tour of England 2014

(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)

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