Would you ever want to step into Manoj Tiwary’s shoes? The guy has played a grand total of eight ODIs in four years, served as the 12th man in maybe10 times that number, and was dropped, picked and dumped again for no rhyme or reason.
When in the Indian team, the Bengal right-hander has spent hours doing nothing while his illustrious teammates batted in the nets. He was hoping against hope that he’d play on the morrow.
But the amazing part is that every time he is pushed into a corner, he bounces back quicker than most. On Tuesday, Indian cricket’s perennial ‘best man’ made a huge statement of intent with a determined 93 on Day One of the three-day tie between India ‘A’ and England at the Brabourne Stadium.
In the process, he gatecrashed the party organised in honour of No 6 contenders Yuvraj Singh (59), Suresh Raina (20) and walked away with the applause. For the record, India ‘A’ ended the day on 369/9, their reputation firmly intact thanks to Tiwary, Yuvraj and opener Abhinav Mukund, whose delightful boundary-laced 73 set the ball rolling, quite literally. Also deserving of praise was Irfan Pathan (46), who played perfect second fiddle to Tiwary during their match-defining 110-run stand for the seventh wicket.
Tiwary’s knock didn’t get you to the edge of your seat; instead, it helped you sit back and relax. Well, when you walk in at 140/4 and your senior partner’s departure makes it 168/5, then you ought to bat like a monk, not a pop star. Tiwary did just that and his effort oozed sensibility. Chief selector Sandeep Patil wasn’t there, but his four colleagues were. So let’s wish the lad good luck.
If Mukund’s knock set the tone for the day, then Yuvraj’s panache left you asking for more. He was dropped first ball by Samit Patel at square-leg, but that was that. He treated James Anderson and Tim Bresnan with respect, ducking whenever they peppered him with short-pitched ones, but driving with authority when they pitched it up. The tourists were already a bowler short as Steve Finn left the field with a thigh injury and had to undergo a scan.
Off-spinner Graeme Swann and left-arm spinner Patel also bore the brunt of Yuvraj’s intent, both bowlers getting carted for two sixes apiece. He departed in the pursuit of one maximum too many, with Swann having him stumped by beating him in flight.
Sadly enough, Yuvraj’s class didn’t rub off on Raina, who looked edgy throughout his stay before bat-padding Patel to Ian Bell at forward short-leg.
India ‘A’ 1st innings: A Mukund c Bell b Swann 73, M Vijay run out (Bresnan) 7, A Rahane c Pietersen b Bresnan 4, Y Singh st Prior b Swann 59, S Raina c Bell b Patel 20, M Tiwary b Bresnan 93, W Saha lbw b Anderson 20, I Pathan lbw b Swann 46, R Vinay Kumar batting 25, A Dinda b Bresnan 0, P Awana batting 11; Extras: (B1, LB9, W1) 11
Total: (nine wickets; 90 overs) 369 (4.10 runs per over)
Fall of Wickets: 1-25 (Vijay, 7.4 ov), 2-57 (Rahane, 15.1 ov), 3-113 (Mukund, 24.5 ov), 4-140 (Raina, 35.3 ov), 5-168 (Yuvraj Singh, 42.4 ov), 6-190 (Saha, 46.6 ov), 7-300 (Pathan, 74.6 ov), 8-347 (Tiwary, 85.1 ov), 9-347 (Dinda, 85.2 ov) Bowling: J Anderson 17-4-65-1 (W1), S Finn 4-1-22-0, T Bresnan 20-6-59-3, J Trott 5-0-21-0, G Swann 23-6-90-3, S Patel 20-4-95-1, K Pietersen 1-0-7-0