Since the day Manoj Tiwary arrived on the international scene, the luck has not been on his side as despite proving his mettle on minimal occasions, Tiwary has never been given games at a stretch for the national team.
Manoj Tiwary forced his way into the Indian team riding on a superlative show in the Ranji Trophy 2006-07 where he scored 796 runs at a Bradmanesque average of 99.50. He was called into the Indian squad for the series against Bangladesh but luck ditched him as he got injured during a practice session.
Tiwary though got his place back in the squad but could not become a permanent member of the team, owing to an injury on occasions.
For those who think Karun Nair was unlucky to be dropped for Pune Test against Australia despite scoring a triple century in the previous game, don’t be surprised as Manoj Tiwary warmed the bench for a total of 14 games, even after scoring a century against West Indies in December 2011. He flew with the team to Australia, Bangladesh and then it was finally in Sri Lanka at Colombo when his exile finally came to end.
Before the start of the tenth edition of IPL, where he will feature for Rising Pune Supergiant, Manoj Tiwary caught up with Sportzwiki where he opened up about his expectations from IPL, his domestic performance and much more.
Here are excerpts from the interview –
SW: First of all, how does it feel like to be back in the IPL fold after missing out last season?
Manoj: It obviously feels good, to be part of the franchise Pune. As well all know it’s a big platform which all the players dream to be part of and it’s similar for me as well. Very excited, I am looking forward to this year’s IPL as well.
SW: What are the expectations from the new captain Steve Smith?
Manoj: Expectations are always to get the IPL trophy in hand. I just want to contribute to the team’s win personally and let’s see how he handles things because you know there are so many players in the team who have captained their respective state teams and also MSD (Mahendra Singh Dhoni) is there, Ajikya (Rahane) recently led. So having those brains around Smith (Steven) will definitely help the team’s cause and the way he has been handling Australian team, it gives a lot of hope. Just have to wait and see how things go from here.
SW: Do you think that it is the route with which you can stake a claim for a place in the side for the Champions Trophy?
Manoj: I don’t think so because it’s not the only route as along with IPL performances, selectors do watch the performance in domestic cricket as well but obviously, IPL is a big platform where you get recognised and people take note of that. So the kind of quality and level of cricket which is played, its international level quality of cricket which is played, international opponents, international players. So definitely there are a lot of options for the selectors too.
SW: Manoj, coming to your international career, injuries have always acted as a barrier in your career, how do you deal with such hurdles in your life?
Manoj: Well, you have to be ready to forget those things. The injury is something which nobody wants at any given point of time but if it happens, you cannot do anything about it’s not in our control. No matter how hard you train, how to fit you are. If you are destined to suffer an injury, it will happen and that has happened with me but all those injuries haven’t put me back but I look at it the positive way and I am not thinking about the injuries anymore.
It’s a past thing and to cope with it, you need the support of your family, your closed ones, your friends. That mental support is really needed or otherwise, you feel alone and luckily with me, the support system have been there. My family, friends, wife have constantly motivated me and also as you know there are a lot of stories about athletes who have gone through major injuries in the life and despite that, they have come back.
It goes similarly for me as well, whenever I go through injury face, I had motivated myself more and kept watching the story of those athletes. How they made a comeback? That’s how I also did. You just have to mentally pretty strong and motivated enough to come back harder and that’s what I did, Every time when I got injured.
I also must thank all the physios and all the trainers starting from the NCA to all the physios who have helped me in my injury days and also BCCI taking care of it. So, I am taking this opportunity to thank them.
SW: How difficult is it for you to swallow the fact that you had been injured on the eve of your debut game?
Manoj: Ya, it was a big setback I would say as I was not ready to take that mentally. I was still young 19 years of age. It happened so quickly that it didn’t digest but you know these things happen and I always believe in destiny and whatever has to happen, it happens. But obviously it was disappointing when you know that you will be making your debut and suddenly injury happens and it’s ok as I mentioned, I look it in a positive way. I was on my national duty and I was giving my 100% on the field and while doing that I got injured. It’s not a good thing but you cannot do anything about it, so yes it was tough.
SW: Despite scoring a century in the last ODI against West Indies in Chennai in 2011, you were benched for several months? How did you deal that?
Manoj: Maturity and your state of mind make a lot of difference as for how to cope with all such things and obviously, it frustrates you but what team management felt at that time, I do back them. As a player, you want to play but whatever the team management and captain thought at that time for the betterment of Indian cricket and for the betterment of the country- the combination of team mattered the most rather than my individual stuff. It’s something you don’t see often a player scoring 100 and then getting dropped but you have to take it and look forward. As I mentioned, you have to speak to yourself get motivated and work hard. Working hard is the only option which players have. So that is what I was doing.
SW: Your batting average in first-class cricket is 52.00 and you was also there in the Rest of India squad for Irani cup. Do you still dream to play for India in whites?
Manoj: Yes, the dream is on and I am chasing it.
SW: Going back to IPL final 2012, where KKR needed 9 runs off 6 deliveries. The onus was on Manoj Tiwary to win the game for the team. What was going through your mind? Did you think that you will be able to do it?
Manoj: As a batsman, you get in with a mindset to be the match winner for the team. No matter whether the situation comes or not. Whenever you step on the field, you have to think in a way that you will be the match winner for the team today. So that was the mindset.
I got that opportunity and luckily the situation was created for me and I did my best. I am someone who works really hard on my game and hard work always pays off. I was delighted to have contributed in that match. I remember having a good partnership with Shakib, he is a good friend. So obviously we share a good bonding and it always helped in the game as well. Pretty happy to have contributed to the team’s success.
SW: How has vision 2020, launched by Sourav Ganguly, helped Bengal team. Do you think it can give Bengal Ranji team stars players in future?
Manoj: It is helping the Bengal cricketers, the youngsters and also the seniors as well because he had recruited Laxman (VVS) as a batting consultant, Muralitharan as a spin bowling consultant and TA Shekhar is there but before that, Waqar Younis was there. When these players come and guide the youngsters and senior players as well, definitely it makes an impact and it is seen on the field. The performance of players in the season have been really good and the credit has to go to vision 2020 and the people who are working with the players. They have looked after players and provided us with the facilities available in Bengal.
Players are also woking hard as well not only from the coaching staff. The are showing a lot of hunger and determination to become good as a cricketer which is helping the team in a broader picture.
SW: How helpful is it to have Sourav Ganguly as the President of CAB?
Manoj: It is helping a lot. As a cricketer himself, he understands the need of a player. What is to be required for the betterment of infrastructure and all? He has been the guiding person whenever there is a need for it. He is so involved, he often comes to the practice sessions to guide the players and teach how the things can be done differently. So, if you have a person who loved being involved in each and every aspect, it’s a very good thing to have.
SW: How would you summarise the season 2016/17 for you and the team?
Manoj: The season has been really good for me. I will start from the Ranji trophy. Our venue for the Ranji Trophy was North Zone, for Bengal cricket and when we play in the North Zone, you know the conditions are tough for the batsmen. It’s a one ball game for the batsmen. So there were a couple of venues where it was quite challenging but despite that, I scored 650 runs in the Ranji trophy.
One of the matches was not played against Gujarat in Delhi and the Lahli game got over in two days. Keep those two matches aside and I think I have done really well and talking about the shorter formats, in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, nobody would have given a chance to us at the start of the tournament because other zones were so strong that nobody would have thought that East Zone would have emerged champions. We won because we had a great bunch of boys who were determined and were eager to do well. We had a good support staff as well and we defeated other teams comprehensively. So it was pleasing to see and great to see when your hard work pays off and sweat you put in.
Even in the Zonal league for Bengal, we beat all the four teams and the way we played in Vijay Hazare Trophy, only one game we lost that was against Tamil Nadu (final) but that game also we had it in our hands. We restricted them to 217 odd total but the thing didn’t go well in the batting aspect on our part but these things happen. I always see the broader picture the consistency of the team, the percentage of results, as a team, we are heading towards a right direction and as far as my performance is concerned, I am pretty happy with it and want to continue in IPL as well.
Rapid Fire (it was suppsoed to be one!) Q/A –
SW: Best captain you have played under?
Manoj: I don’t want to name one obviously everyone has a different style of captaincy and I have played under Dada (Sourav Ganguly, Laxmi Ratan Shukla and MSD (Mahendra Singh Dhoni)as well. Everyone is different. In IPL as well I have played under Gambhir (Gautam). So see everyone is different and I am the someone who looks at the result, if the captain is given a result, I would go with him.
SW: Best bowler you have faced?
Manoj: In the spin department, it is Sunil Narine and in pace, Lasith Malinga at his peak was unplayable in IPL.
SW: You dream moment in international cricket?
Manoj: The moment has to be scoring my 100 for the country and also getting my debut game vs Australia when I was part of the team with legends of the game. Sachin (Tendulkar), Sehwag (Virender), MSD (Dhoni) everyone was there. So making my debut, getting my debut cap was dream moment and also scoring a hundred as well.
SW: Best mate in Bengal dressing room?
Manoj: Everyone is the best over there.
SW: Any plans of joining politics in future?
Manoj: I think I would stick to my cup of tea which is sports and let’s see how it goes. You cannot plan anything too much ahead because you need to go by the things that come your way. You never know what happens but I would rather stick to my cup of tea which is sports.