Stuart Binny has been a quiet, unheralded performer for Rajasthan Royals, much like his team itself, but he will be under the spotlight on Saturday (April 20) when Rajasthan take on Royal Challengers Bangalore at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, the venue of many a Binny special in different formats of the game.
"It's always exciting to play in Bangalore," Binny, the Karnataka allrounder, said on Friday. "I haven't played an IPL game here yet as the game last year was washed out. I haven't been home in two months so I'm excited to be back and I'm looking forward to a good game. I know RCB is like a home team, but RCB is not my home, Karnataka is my home. RCB is just a franchise, we will try to go out there and beat them."
Binny's skipper at Rajasthan, Rahul Dravid, too will be playing in front of his home fans. Binny said he had benefited hugely by having Dravid, his one-time state skipper, as his franchise captain. "He knows my game a lot better and he knows the cricket that I've played. When I was growing up, I went to BUCC and he was around there at the time so he knows the set-up and mental process of my game," said Binny. "It helps me knowing he's there for me. Out of 10 T20 games, you can have seven-eight bad ones and two good games so it's good to have a guy like Rahul bhai to help us mentally.
"He has a big influence on the team. He's played so much Test and One-Day Internatioanl cricket for the country that he brings in a lot of experience. He's a lot more flexible. In the last game, he didn't go in to bat, showing our batting doesn't revolve around him. Having a guy like him helps a lot, especially since T20 is all about pressure."
Binny disagreed with suggestions that Rajasthan were punching above their weight. "We are a very relaxed team. We don't have big names in our side, we don't have guys who can demolish teams in T20 cricket, but we are a unit that is very balanced," he said. "We've got a good set of bowlers and a lot of experience in our team, so I wouldn't say we're underdogs at the moment. We would have been, probably, at the start of the tournament but the way we've played, we're pretty happy so it's important to continue with this momentum."
Of his role in the side, he said, "It's pretty simple. I bat at No. 4 or No. 5 depending on the situation and I have to look to play positive cricket, which I look to do always anyway, so it's not something new to me. I've got to go out and have a strike rate of 120. I also chip in with my bowling whenever needed. It's not that I have to bowl four overs in every game. I hadn't bowled in the first two-three games, but in the last game, I bowled three overs, which was quite exciting."
Binny said Rajasthan were also fortunate to have Paddy Upton as the team coach. "Paddy helps us with the mental side of the game, with pressure," Binny said. "Players go through good and bad patches, so he basically gets you to open up to him about how you are feeling mentally. If we're doing well, he keeps us in that frame of mind. He doesn't help us too much with the cricket side of things, but more about how we feel before games.
"Personally, I'm a player who's very open about stuff but I have had a few interactions with him," Binny said. "A lot of players have benefited a lot from him because they like to talk about the game a lot and understand their mind. He knows how much a player wants."