No expectations, no worries keep Tiwary going

Bengal and India international batsman Manoj Tiwary still harbours India dreams and believes an IPL comeback is not impossible.

Bengal batsman Manoj Tiwary plays a shot during the Ranji Trophy final between Bengal and Saurashtra at the SCA Stadium in Rajkot on March 11.

Bengal batsman Manoj Tiwary plays a shot during the Ranji Trophy final between Bengal and Saurashtra at the SCA Stadium in Rajkot on March 11.   -  Vijay Soneji

Manoj Tiwary has been through a lot of hardship. Finding no answers for being dropped after a fine ODI hundred to missing out on an IPL contract despite past performances, the list is endless. Amid the setbacks, the right-handed batsman maintained his loyalty towards Bengal. The Ranji Trophy 2019-20 final against Saurashtra marked his 100th outing for the state.

Tiwary had a stellar domestic red-ball season which includes a triple-hundred. And the 35 off 116 balls in the final was a crucial knock considering the challenging pitch. Unfortunately, Bengal didn’t end on the winning side.

Sportstar caught up with the 34-year-old Tiwary outside the Bengal dressing room talking 100, selection and security.

What are your reflections on finishing 100 Ranji games for Bengal? Where do you see yourself five years down the line?

I see myself playing for another 10 years. I have said that before as well, but not everything is dependent on me. If I can keep myself fit and perform consistently, it is not impossible.

The main vision and goal is to give Bengal a Ranji Trophy and I believe we were close, yet so far but we have players in the ranks who can become champions in the coming years.

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There is balance and we have bowlers who can pick 20 wickets, which is a plus point. The addition of Akash Deep, the maturity of Mukesh Kumar and the improvement of Ishan Porel has helped our bowling unit. To get an outright win and to reach the knockouts, you need bowlers to take 20 wickets.

If, as a batting unit, we can contribute more, this side will be unstoppable.

But it must be upsetting to not get it this time...

My 100th experience will be memorable. I never thought that my 100th game will be a final. I am going to cherish this game but I think the icing on the cake would have been the Ranji Trophy but we cant’t start feeling down thinking about that then we will play the final again. I feel this team can become champions next year.

Do you expect to hear from the selectors after 700+ runs this season? Did anybody speak to you after the triple ton?

I haven’t heard from the selectors. I don’t expect anything from anyone nowadays. If the call comes, well and good. If it doesn’t come, it is all okay. I am just hoping I get picked for the Rest of India (ROI) squad for the Irani Trophy.

Do you feel age plays a factor in selection calls?

It is not about the age. I think the players who have done well in Ranji should be looked after. I am expecting to play for ROI on virtue of the Ranji performance.

How do you still maintain the hunger to play for India or make an IPL comeback?

The dream to play for India is always there.

And to get picked for the IPL, you have to have the hope and belief that you can make a comeback one day.

DID YOU KNOW?

Tiwary had scored 324 runs at an average of 32.4 in the 2017 edition of IPL for Rising Pune Supergiant, the side that ended runner-up.

You also have to be realistic; looking at the Indian team now, it is a strong team and there is no slot to be honest but lot of miracles have happened over a period of time.

I will keep working hard on my game and become a better player next season. I scored 700 runs but my target was 1,000. I missed out on a couple innings after scoring three fifties. Those crucial 40s and 50s were important for the team. I am there to improve on my skills, let me see how much I can contribute and score more runs for the team.

You train throughout the year and there is no off-season for you...

Cricket has given me name, fame and money. It has made my family balanced and secure. I know how and where it came from. There are no shortcuts to success. You have to work very hard for it. I remember my childhood days when my family used to struggle financially. Remembering the hard times, I keep pushing myself.

Manoj Tiwary in Ranji 2019-20

Matches 11

Innings 16

Runs 707

50s 3

100s 1

Average 50.5

Highest score 303*

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