Indian Cricketer Manoj Tiwary could probably be named as one of the most unfortunate cricketer’s in the Indian circuit. Often compared to Kevin Pietersen for his aggressive style of batting, Manoj has been one of the most consistent players in the Indian domestic circuit, especially in the Ranji Trophy, for which he was rewarded with a call-up in the Indian team for the first time in 2007 but injury had kept him out of the team. Though Injuries have been a part and parcel of his career, he has performed well in the few opportunities he has got at the International level.
The 31-year-old has been the most experienced campaigner for Bengal and has led the team to the Finals of the Vijay Hazare Trophy, 2017 and to the Quarter Finals finish in the Ranji Trophy squad. Apart from that, Manoj has also led East Zone to the Mushtaq Ali T20 title.
Team Circle of Cricket met with the star recently in Delhi for an exclusive interview in which he talked about his success with the Bengal team, playing for RPS in IPL and a lot more:
Bengal has performed very well in the domestic circuit recently. Tell us about the change that has come into the team?
It does feel good when you see that your hard work is paying off. The team has prepared better than most of the teams for the Domestic season. The effort by the management also has been immense. Prior to this tournament, we had a very long practice session in Calcutta regularly. We are getting the results now. Our planning off the field has also been going well since our strategies and plans for the opposition teams are working. The communication between the team management, captain and the coach is very clear. As a senior player and captain of the side, I would say I am very happy with my team’s performance.
Since you are one of the senior most players in the team, what has been your key role as Skipper and as a batsman?
Being a senior member always helps as I have the experience required to lead the team in various situations. Whenever the pressure is on us, it’s the experience that counts. As a batsman, my role has mostly been to stay there at the crease until the end and try to finish the game. At the same time, guide the young batsmen who are in the middle with me. Plans can vary from match to match according to the situation of the game. I like to lead from the front and be positive every time I go there on the field. The youngster to follow and listen to my advice which is a good thing.
Pragyan Ojha has joined Bengal as a player since a couple of years. How has his inclusion impacted the team?
Pragyan has made a big impact. He was the joint highest wicket taker for Bengal in the Ranji Trophy last season along with Ashoke Dinda with 37 wickets. Those two were the main pillars for us. As I mentioned earlier, you cannot buy experience in the market, experience does help a lot. A bowler of his experience knows when and how to bowl in various conditions and situations. It makes the captain’s job easy when you know that you have Ojha in your side when the team is in any trouble or other bowlers are going for runs.
You have been picked by Rising Pune Supergiants in the IPL this year. How difficult is it to shift gears playing in different formats?
We definitely have to prepare differently. It is more of a mental adjustment as a batsman as T20 is a fast game. You need to be mentally focused and strong to know about your batting. In T20 cricket, there is hardly any time for the batsmen as they need to keep moving the strike rate higher. We also have to improve our stroke play and play all over the field.
RPS has picked up some good players this year. Who is your favourite pick?
For me, Ben Stokes was a very god pick as he in a very good form at the moment. He is equally good with the bat, ball and the field. If you have a fast bowling all-rounder in the team, it gets easier for the management and Skipper to pick their best XI as you can pick two specialist fast bowlers alongside the all-rounder. He will be a player to watch out for.
MS Dhoni was the Captain for RPS last year and the team did not do well. Do you think there will be a change in fortunes with Steven Smith being appointed Skipper?
I am a part of this team so I would love to see them do well and become champions. The previous season has gone by and there is not looking back. Starting well in the tournament is very important as it sets the tone for us. Looking forward to working with this team.
Coming to your International career, you have been in and out of the Indian side due to injury and various other reasons. Do you think a strong performance in the IPL will help you to regain your place?
A good IPL makes a lot of impact in your career as the quality of IPL is very high. There are so many International players playing the League. Competing and doing well against them surely catches the eye of the selectors. I am someone who gave importance to other domestic tournaments as well apart from the IPL. Considering the Mushtaq Ali tournament in which East Zone won the tournament, I performed really well as a batsman and as skipper. So, the BCCI tournaments have to be given equal importance.
Since Sourav Ganguly has now become a part of the administration and is now heading the Cricket Association of Bengal, do you think his presence has helped the Bengal team?
It has made a very big impact on Bengal Cricket. There is a huge initiative headed by Sourav Ganguly called ‘Vision 2020’ which runs in Calcutta where all the young Cricketing talents of Bengal are nurtured by experienced mentors like VVS Laxman, Mutthaiya Muralidharan and Sourav himself. Having such big names as coaches makes players improve very quickly. The camp is like the Centre of Excellence for Bengal Cricket where young club level cricket can come and get special training to get ready for the next level which is the Indian Domestic tournaments. Even the current squad that did so well in Ranji, Mushtaq Ali and Vijay Hazare, have all been nurtured in this camp. We now have a reserve team which is as good as the current Bengal team. A lot of young players have debuted for Bengal this season and they have done very well in the bigger platform which a rare thing. I can proudly say that Bengal is the best team in the Indian Domestic circuit.