Many remember Manoj Tiwary for his performances for Rising Pune Supergiant in the 2017 edition of IPL, when he along with MS Dhoni, took his franchise to the finals of the tournament in the final year of the team’s existence.
Before that people might remember him for his brilliant performance for India against West Indies in the ODI series in 2011. He scored a century (104) in the 5th ODI of the series in what became his most memorable performance for India. His career for India halted at 12 ODIs and 3 T20Is, but he has soldiered on for Bengal in the domestic scene.
Son of a railway clerk, Manoj Tiwary saw his father spend his life under the burden of paying back the loans which he took to give English medium education to his three children. Tiwary knew that playing cricket seriously could be a way of bringing in money for his family and he focused solely on cricket.
After some brilliant performance for Bengal in the 2006-07 season, Tiwary was selected for an ODI series against Bangladesh in the aftermath of the 2007 World Cup debacle. 21 year old Tiwary was supposed to make his ODI debut in the first match, but injured his shoulder during the eve of the match doing fielding drills.
"That was heart-breaking, to be honest," he recalls. "I cried a lot. I normally never cry on my cricket tours. It was something I was not expecting and it happened. I didn't know what to do. If I am in pain, I try and hide it from the family, because the family gets tensed about everything and overthink, which I didn't want them to do."
Sachin Tendulkar helped Tiwary out, by arranging his surgery in London. Tiwary made his debut in Australia a year later at the Gabba. However a rampaging Brett Lee rattled his stumps for 2 runs off 15 balls. "It's never a good idea when you are concentrating on the bowler rather than the ball," recalls Tiwary in an interview with Cricbuzz.com.
Manoj Tiwary talks about the West Indies series in 2011, following the World Cup triumph in which he scored his lone international century, "I was willing to bat at any position, but Sehwag asked me what position I would prefer to bat. I said No. 4, and I got that. I'm grateful to him. I wasn't going to bat at No. 4 because Duncan Fletcher, at that time, wanted to give a higher batting order to Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina, but Sehwag was kind enough. He knew I used to bat at No. 4 for Bengal for so many years."
His international career halted after a difficult tour of Zimbabwe, where he got to play all the matches as part of the Indian team, but he was short of match practice, having been called into the team at short notice from a vacation.
Manoj Tiwary has played in IPL for Delhi Daredevils and Kolkata Knight Riders, apart from Rising Pune Supergiant. However, after been left out by KKR in the 2016, Tiwary went unsold in the auctions.
Tiwary was playing the quarterfinal Ranji clash between Bengal and Madhya Pradesh and he recalls, "When I went inside the dressing room for a loo break, everyone was quiet. There was no talk of the auctions. No one was willing to tell me that I went unsold.” He adds, "When I got to know, I was shocked. The century I scored in the second innings was purely out of anger."
He was however picked by RPS in IPL 2017 auctions and proved his detractors wrong by scoring 327 runs at a strike rate of 137.28 and taking his team to the finals.
"My connection with him (Sehwag) will always be there. I was just going through social media updates. I usually just go through my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook (and not react). But that day, suddenly I saw that video by Rashid Latif. And the tone in which he was talking and the words he used... If he could have used a better way of expressing what he wanted to say, I could've taken it. But not this. That was the only reason. I hadn't planned or anything," he added on why he lent support to the former Indian opener when he was criticized by Latif.
He adds, "My mother and my wife have asked me to be diplomatic about things, but I can't do it. If I see something wrong happening in front of me, I can make a contribution with my point of view because I have always captained sides. I can't see basic things going wrong. Even in IPL as well."
He recalled one more instance of altercation between him and Gautam Gambhir during a Ranji match, which almost came to blows. He says "Whenever I bat, the cushion of the helmet gets wet because I sweat a lot. I usually hang the cushion in a hook inside the dressing room. When I came down to bat, I took my helmet but forgot to get the cushion. The match was happening in the evening. There was very less time to play. One batsmen had got out. So when I saw the cushion missing, I asked one of the players to go get the cushion quickly. So I was walking slowly towards the crease, hoping that by the time I take strike, the cushion would've reached me. But Gauti bhai thought that was wasting time."
The career story of Manoj Tiwary will always be that of an extremely talented batsman who showed lots of potential in his 20s, got chances to prove himself, but was unlucky as untimely injuries and form deserted him when he needed it the most.
When asked whether he would have liked for things to have gone differently, Tiwary says, "It gives a lot of relief when you see that your dad's loan has been paid off and he is relaxed. No pressure at all. To see my parents happy, feels very good. No matter how big we become in our profession, we will always be indebted to our parents. Whenever I think about my past, how I got into cricket, I do not give much importance to luck. Whatever little fan base I have got, whatever little income and respect I have earned, whatever friends and name I could have made, was because of cricket. I can only say the timings of my injury were bad. Things could have gone in a better way for me."