Professional sport is fairytale sprung to life. One day you’re an ordinary human being, fighting your way through life, going through the motions and living out the script.
The next day the script changes. You find yourself on a pedestal higher than most people in the world. You are no more ordinary.
But his fairytale began when in the 11th year of his domestic cricket career, he got a call into Team India. In his third ODI, he achieved the best bowling figures in the format by an Indian. A few weeks later, he was batting to save a Test match for India in England.
Binny walked in to bat on the final day of the Trent Bridge Test after the quick fall of Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and MS Dhoni. There was moisture in the air and the English pacers were getting the ball to reverse swing prodigiously. Binny batted for 164 minutes and scored 78 of the most crucial runs of the match.
After saving the Test, Binny shared his joy with bcci.tv in a delightful chat.
How does it feel like to be a Test cricketer? You’ve had to wait quite a bit for this one.
It’s an unbelievable and very proud feeling, especially for the family and all my friends who supported me throughout the tough times I faced to get here. Personally it was a very special feeling to walk out on the field for my first session of Test cricket.
You’ve been playing domestic cricket since 2003. At any point, did you stop thinking about Test cricket?
To be honest, I never really put too much pressure on myself to play any format or at any level. I’ve always made sure that whatever cricket I am playing, I enjoy myself. I didn’t think or not think about playing Test cricket. I just took it as it came. But at the moment I am really happy that I have a Test cap.
Not a bad start to the Test career – under pressure, match saving knock.
I was a bit disappointed with the way it went in the first innings. I did the hard work for the first 10-15 minutes – which is the most crucial phase for a batsman – and then played a loose shot to get out. So today I just wanted to go in there and spend as much time in the middle as I could.
The ball was reversing and wicket started doing a bit especially with the new ball. There are not many players who get a chance to save the Test for their country on their debut. I did and I am really happy that I took it.
You weren’t much in action for the first four days of this Test. Did that make you doubly determined today, the thought of making your Test debut memorable?
Yes, that’s right. The wicket didn’t suit my style of bowling and I had to understand and accept that quickly. I was told that a Test match lasts five days that so I will be required to play a part at some point. So, I went in to bat with a very positive mindset. I knew that if I survived the first 30 minutes, the wicket would ease out. I went with the mindset of playing out balls instead of scoring runs. When you get to 25, that’s when you realize, okay, a Test fifty is here for the taking.
The ball was reversing in the morning – they were getting it to shape in. With what game plan did you enter to bat?
I normally bat at No. 6 for Karnataka and so I tend to play a lot of reverse swing. I just used all my experience of batting for my state when we were under the pump, and in India the reverse swing comes into picture all the time. I tried to do what I do there – clearing the left leg and looking to hit a lot straighter.
Jadeja was struggling big time against the moving ball. But when you came in to bat, he too started to look a little more comfortable. Did you tell him anything that helped him in the middle?
Jaddu is the type of player who likes to play positive but today the requirement was to bat time. We spoke about just trying to put bat on ball, look solid and not lose our wicket at any cost. The game would have opened up had one of us gotten out at that time. It was all about watching the ball hard and batting for each other.
In hindsight, do you think the wicket was misread a bit, given how less you bowled?
I don’t think we misread it. It was a hard wicket but there wasn’t much bounce. Even the English guys were surprised at how it played out. When we were batting, it felt like we were batting in India. It was a funny wicket.
Your father’s highest Test score is 83. Was it on your mind?
Actually I didn’t know about it. When I went back to the change room, it was pointed out to me. Hopefully, there are many more Test matches to go for me and I will be able to overhaul his score.