The chances he has got have been few and far between. But Manoj Tiwary, the 26-year-old Bengal skipper, is eager to show the world he is capable. A 93 against England in a warm-up match earlier in the week has once again brought him in the spotlight ahead of the Test team selection on Monday. He is keeping his fingers crossed but is confident that another 'no' will not shatter him. Instead, every denial makes him stronger to face the next challenge.
Excerpts from an interview:
You have consistently scored runs in domestic first-class cricket since the 2006-07 season. Yet, you have never been part of the Test squad. Do you think your 93 against England in the warm-up match in Mumbai will force the selectors to think differently?
All the selectors were present at the ground when I was batting. The team was under pressure when I walked in. It is probably the second-best Test bowling attack and even though I am disappointed for missing out on the century, I would suppose I have done everything I could have. It's now up to the selectors to decide.
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni had mentioned Virat Kohli and you as two of the fittest players in the India squad. What is your training routine like?
I follow exactly what the trainers of the India team and the Kolkata Knight Riders team tell me to do. I stay away from fatty foods and aerated drinks. I know I have to be No 1 in every department and it's not just batting or fielding.
Competition now is so strong and the travel is so hectic that if you are not fit, your performance will suffer.
What is your life like outside cricket?
To be honest, it is really very bland. I don't have too many friends mainly because I can't trust most people. I have a girlfriend and I generally hang out with her and spend a lot of time with my family. Most of the time, I am alone surfing the internet.
Do you socialise only through the net?
To some extent. But it's not just that. When I am really, really low, I go on Youtube and search for inspirational videos. That is where I saw Derek Redmond (British 400m runner who was the man in form to win the Barcelona Olympic gold when he tore his hamstring with 250 metres to go. With the help of his father, he crossed the line to a standing ovation from 65,000 people).
I cried when I first saw the video. I could see a reflection of my career. I was on the verge of my India debut when I got injured in Bangladesh (2007). I was out for long and had to work very, very hard to get back into reckoning. To do well in sport, I believe, you sometimes need a bit of luck as well.
Do these videos inspire you to fight on?
They do. There are videos of physically-challenged people reaching the peak of their achievements, braving odds. I watch them and feel blessed I have two hands and feet. Problems in my life can never be bigger than theirs. They motivate me to work harder the next day.
You sat on the bench for 13 matches on the trot spread over eight months and that too after an unbeaten ton against the West Indies…
Sitting out is not easy. But you get richer with experience and grow stronger in the mind. But the main drawback is if you are not in the playing 11 you don't get quality time for batting at the nets. That becomes frustrating at times because the best of India are bowling and you are not getting a chance to improve.
How has the IPL helped you get into the limelight?
When I was with the Delhi Daredevils, I did not get enough chances mainly because our top order was playing exceedingly well. I sacrificed almost Rs. 30 lakh when I shifted to Kolkata Knight Riders and even then I was not sure of a chance. I even opened the innings. Now, finally, I have the No 4 slot and I am trying to make the most of it.