Despite scoring tons of runs on the domestic circuit before and after a major shoulder injury suffered on the morning of what would have been his ODI debut soon after the 2007 World Cup, Manoj Tiwary was always remembered for the scorching Brett Lee yorker that zipped through his defence on his eventual ODI entry in February 2008, hours after he had landed in Australia.
However, the Bengal batsman ensured on Sunday that Indian fans would now know him for his impressive maiden ODI ton in the final game against West Indies at the MA Chidambaram Stadium.
Coming in to bat with Kemar Roach breathing fire, having got rid of Ajinkya Rahane and Parthiv Patel off the second and third balls of the match, Tiwary had to play a big knock to bail the team out of trouble. More importantly, his first and only opportunity of the series was going to judge his mettle at the highest level.It took Tiwary more than three years to break into the India squad again after his disastrous ODI debut in Australia. However, despite being a member of the squad in the West Indies, and against England both away and at home, Tiwary was handed just four ODI caps during these series.
While India were facing West Indies in Tests, Tiwary was regaining his confidence by doing what he is best at — scoring in the Ranji Trophy. His century while leading Bengal against Gujarat was followed by his career-best 267 against Madhya Pradesh. The two knocks helped him retain his place in the squad for the West Indies ODIs.
However, despite being in scintillating form, Tiwary had no option but to warm the bench. And when the opportunity finally came a calling, he capitalised on it by scoring a fluent 104 before cramp forced him to abandon his assault.
Sunday's knock not only ensured he would be on the plane to Australia for the tri-series in the New Year but it was also an indicator that the Bengal selectors' decision to appoint Sourav Ganguly as the Ranji skipper for the rest of the season was perhaps a backward step.
“I had spoken with Manoj at length on Friday (after he was removed as Bengal captain) and told him he could get a chance now that the series was decided. I told him he would get just one chance and he had to make it count to make a mark,” said Manabendra Ghosh, Tiwary's coach for the last seven years."He was going into this match with a century and a double century in the two Ranji matches he had played this season and I could make out he was quietly confident. I told him to be prepared and make mental planning of the West Indies bowling attack so that when the chance came his way he would be ready to make the most of it. I am happy for him."
(With inputs from Nilankur Das in Kolkata)