Manoj Tiwary is one of the more accomplished batsmen you would come across in the Ranji Trophy and Hyderabad’s bowlers were reminded of that fact at the Bengal Cricket Academy Ground on a mostly cool, cloudy Sunday.
His unbeaten 156 (212b, 357min, 15x4, 3x6) has put Bengal in a rather strong position by stumps on the opening day of the Group A match. A score of 366 for five must definitely be something the host would have taken when it chose to bat after winning the toss.
It may have been Tiwary’s intelligently paced innings that has put Hyderabad on to the back foot so early in the match, but Shreevats Goswami (95, 182b, 14x4) and Anustup Majumdar (59, 86b, 8x4) also deserve credit for lending their senior partner admirable support.
However, at 60 for three, things could easily have gone wrong for Bengal.
The host had begun disastrously, with opener Abhishek Raman edging Ravi Kiran behind in the very first over. Then captain Abhimanyu Easwaran fell lbw to a ball that kept low from Ravi Teja, as Bengal slid to 22 for two.
Then debutant Kazi Saifi, who was showing promise, was caught at slip off Saaketh Sai Ram in his first over. But strangely, the off-spinner was replaced in the very next over by left-arm tweaker Tanay Thyagarajan, who was greeted by Tiwary with a six over deep mid-on.
That was the stage of the match when Tiwary rightly decided counter-attacking was the best defense. It has been a magnificent innings; he gave one chance though to the covers off Ravi Teja, while on 48.
Goswami had no such luck though: he was caught smartly at slip by Saaketh off Ravi Kiran. But he fell going for an unnecessary slash outside the off stump, with minutes left for the close.
He had been batting really well until then. His fifth wicket stand with Tiwary was worth 190. The fourth-wicket partnership featuring Majumdar had yielded 112.
Tiwary, who had reached his hundred with a four and a six, acknowledged the support he received from his partners. “This has already become one of my favourite knocks,” Tiwary said. “I had to keep on batting after losing those early wickets.”
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