File image of Manoj Tiwary.(PTI)
File image of Manoj Tiwary.(PTI)

On green top, Delhi will miss Ishant: Tiwary

Bengal are third in the Elite Cross Pool standings with 19 points from five games; Delhi are on 16. The top five teams spread across two groups qualify for the semi-final. Both teams won their last round—Bengal beat Hyderabad and Delhi defeated Vidarbha.
Kolkata | By Dhiman Sarkar
UPDATED ON JAN 25, 2020 11:03 PM IST

Manoj Tiwary is back—in form and as captain. Against Delhi, Tiwary will lead Bengal in the Ranji Trophy Group A tie at Eden Gardens on Monday.

“I had asked for time to think about it,” said Tiwary, 34, after training at Eden on Saturday. Stripped of the captaincy this term after leading Bengal for four seasons, Tiwary will stand in for Abhimanyu Easwaran who is on India A duty in New Zealand.

“This is the first time such a situation has arisen in my career. I said yes because it would not go down well if I turned this down especially because there is a chance to qualify (for the quarter-finals). If Bengal need my services and I decide to play only for myself, it wouldn’t have been fair on the team,” said Tiwary, who scored an unbeaten 303—his maiden Ranji Trophy triple century—against Hyderabad on Monday.

Bengal are third in the Elite Cross Pool standings with 19 points from five games; Delhi are on 16. The top five teams spread across two groups qualify for the semi-final. Both teams won their last round—Bengal beat Hyderabad and Delhi defeated Vidarbha.

Asked if it was difficult to resume being captain after beginning the season as a senior player, Tiwary said: “It helped that I am in the right frame of mind now. I think captaincy has a lot to do with gut-feel and I have a lot of experience to draw on.”

On what is likely to be a green top, Tiwary said it will hurt Delhi more to come here without injured India fast bowler Ishant Sharma, than Bengal missing Easwaran at the top of the batting order.

“If bowlers get it right, it is possible to dismiss most teams inside 100 on such a wicket. The ball will cut and there will be unplayable deliveries. Also, Easwaran hasn’t been among runs this term,” said Tiwary. Easwaran’s top score this term is 42, against Gujarat.

On a similar track here last January, Bengal beat Delhi by seven wickets—riding Easwaran’s second innings score of 183—after conceding the first innings lead. In both innings, Bengal bowlers had struggled to dismantle the lower-order after putting Delhi under pressure.

“We need to learn from that,” said Tiwary. “Mukesh Kumar is now an experienced bowler and Akash Deep has good pace—he has scared batsmen into getting out—and is in good rhythm. I have played a lot of club cricket (at Mohun Bagan) with Nilkantha Das and I know he can get top players out. If they can express themselves and if we can provide them the right support, we can take a lot from this game. Our target is to get six, if not seven points,” said Tiwary.

Having debuted this term, Deep, 23, took 6/60 against Gujarat and had a match haul of 7/104 against Hyderabad. Ishan Porel is on India A duty and Tiwary said Das, 31, could make his debut.

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