Just at a time when Manoj Tiwary was fading out from the minds of Indian cricket fans, he roared back with a spotless maiden one-day hundred (104 retired hurt) against the West Indies in Chennai last Sunday.
Top of the world: Manoj Tiwary after posting his maiden ODI ton in
Even in ongoing Ranji Trophy, the 26-year-old middle-order batsman has been in tremendous form and has already amassed 586 runs in three matches with a staggering average of 195.33. His highest score has been 267 against Madhya Pradesh.
Yesterday, Tiwary's 187 (his fourth successive ton) helped Bengal bag three crucial points (first innings lead) against Delhi to keep hopes of retaining an Elite Division berth still alive. The recent exploits will hold him in good stead when the national selectors meet to pick the squad for the tri-series Down Under, also involving Sri Lanka. In an interview with MiD DAY, Tiwary spoke about his traumatic years and the success that followed.
How would you rate this Ranji Trophy innings against Delhi?
This is one of the best three innings I have played in my entire career. I had to take a lot of responsibilities as Bengal badly needed three points. So accordingly, I prepared myself in the morning and was determined not to get out before taking the lead as we were only 35 runs behind last evening.
Are you relieved after scoring your maiden international ton?
It was really satisfying to get to that hundred. Particularly after what has happened to me in last few years, it was important for me to be in the reckoning. Many people had shown faith in me, and so it was my duty to not let them down.
Did Virender Sehwag's 219 in Indore inspire you in any way?
Yes it did. That was a legendary innings. I consider myself lucky to witness such an innings from close quarters. So far, only two double hundreds have been scored in the history of one-day cricket and I am fortunate to witness one of those from the dressing room. It not only inspired me, but the entire team as well.
Do you think you have lost some important years of your career because of injury and then surgery (shoulder)?
Absolutely. And that's why this year was very important for me to show respect to the sentiments of those who considered me an India material. I am happy to have proved myself, but this is just the beginning.
Was this period in wilderness difficult to deal with?
Yes. Initially, there was a time when I wasn't mentally strong enough to accept it, but later on I understood that getting upset won't help my cause. In these years, my well-wishers have been my strength.
What did you do during that period?
I used to do two things -- think of my loved ones, who prayed for my success, and watch motivational videos and inspirational songs, especially on YouTube. Those videos and songs built a self-belief in me and I think that has taken me to the next level. In difficult times, these measures really worked for me.
Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and now you. Will you call this a new era?
You can say it's the new generation of Indian cricket and I hope to be with them for a longer stint. Each and every individual is doing well and I am happy for them. Even off the field, these guys are good human being and we hang around together. There's a healthy competition among us.
Even after scoring a century, you may have to sit out once Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Mahendra Singh Dhoni are back in the side. What's your take on this?
I know I have to sit out when they come back, but because of that I cannot stop performing. It's absolutely okay for me to wait for my chance and learn more from them. It's just a matter of time that I will get to play regularly. But for that, I have to keep improving consistently so that I can be in match condition whenever my turn comes.
Rumour mills are abuzz that you have been stripped off Bengal captaincy. Are you hurt?
I don't think I have been stripped off the captaincy. They (CAB) felt Sourav Ganguly is more experienced as far as captaincy is concerned and which is true. Our team is in a difficult phase and so when they spoke to me about the captaincy issue (before taking the decision), I instantly agreed.
At a time when your priority is to cement a place in the national side, is this change of captain a blessing in disguise?
No, it's not. I love to play under pressure. If you check my records you will see I have got more runs when I was captain. Anyway, now I don't have to bear the burden of captaincy in the last two matches, but my preparation and work ethics will be the same. Captaincy is one think that I am not running after. If it comes my way, I will gladly accept it and if it doesn't also, I won't mind.