Bengal had a very good Ranji season until their semi-final match against Delhi. Bengal lost the match by an innings and 26 runs, after they lost the plot in their second innings and were bowled out for 86 runs.
Bengal batting was good until they faced the pace of Navdeep Saini and their mental strength gave way in the most crucial moment. Manoj Tiwary accepted full responsibility for Bengal’s exit, but refused to say that the whole season was a failure for Bengal, as they defeated defending champions Gujarat in quarter-finals.
Speaking to Indian Express, Tiwary said “We are a little soft. In the Ranji Trophy, we have to be tough individuals. And to become tough, we have to take the necessary process. The discussion has taken place as far as how to make the players (youngsters) a bit tougher mentally and obviously we are (also) going to look for players (in club cricket) who are mentally tough. And the players we already have, we will ensure that they go through the process of becoming mentally tougher.”
Talking about the dressing room culture in Bengal cricket, Tiwary said “ Our boys; we have to tackle their issues by having one-to-one conversations. The idea is to get the most out of the youngsters and if you see (this season), all the youngsters have performed really well. Abhishek Raman has scored more than 600 runs, Abhimanyu Easwaran more than 500. Other players as well. Anustup Majumder was lost but he made a roaring comeback. We have a different way of dealing with youngsters and the players are performing that way. It’s just that we didn’t do well in the semifinal.”
“We have reached the semifinals, which shows our progress compared to the last season and the season before that. So we are improving as a side. It was very unfortunate the kind of performance we showed against Delhi. We played far below our potential. And because expectations were so high, a lot of people felt disappointed and disheartened. But the expectations rose only because we were playing outstanding cricket till the quarterfinals,” Tiwary said when asked to describe Bengal’s Ranji Trophy performance.
Talking about the semifinal match against Delhi, Manoj Tiwary said, “Poor shot selection started from me. We lost the plot as a batting unit. I take full responsibility for our batting collapse, because I was the senior-most batsman and threw away my wicket.”
He praised Navdeep Saini saying, “On a flat track the way he bowled, we have to give credit to him. He bowled in the right areas. Then again, we made it (Saini’s spell) look a bit (more) fiery. We suffered for poor decision-making. But if you want to win the Ranji Trophy, you have to face such spells and deal with them.”
He brushed aside critics saying “They don’t have any work to do to be honest. Cricket is not played in the books.”
Tiwary wants to bring in a serious fitness culture a la the Indian team. He said, “From next season, we will have certain non-negotiable fitness parameters for getting into the team. We have discussed that. It would be pretty similar to what the Indian team is doing right now. I told the boys after the last game that batting and bowling will come later. Certain fitness parameters will be set and everyone has to go through the test and qualify.”
Tiwary acknowledged coach Sairaj Bahutule’s contribution to the team saying, “He is contributing immensely in holding the team together. It’s not an easy job, especially in Bengal cricket – after just one loss criticism starts coming from different quarters. His work ethic is outstanding. And you have seen the results, the consistency in our performance. It was lacking before. And also in terms of developing the players; every player is getting help from the coach.”