Manoj Tiwary retires: Misfortunes, ignorance and Bengal's "chhota dada"

Discover the career of Manoj Tiwary, Bengal's "chhota dada", as he bids adieu to cricket after two decades. Despite impressive stats, his international career was marred by injuries and missed opportunities.

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Koushik Biswas
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Manoj Tiwary retires: Misfortunes, ignorance and Bengal's "chhota dada"

Manoj Tiwary will be retiring from all forms of cricket after his last Ranji Trophy match at Eden Gardens against Bihar.

10165  first-class runs at an average of 47.94, 5581 List-A runs at an average of 42.28, and after a career over two decades for Bengal, Manoj Tiwary will be bidding adieu to cricket after the final match at Eden Gardens against Bihar. Manoj played in 12 ODIs and three T20Is - between 2008 and 2015 and was also part of the ICC T20 World Cup 2012 team but did not get a single game to play. 

A Kevin Pietersen fan, Manoj had moulded his game as an aggressive middle-order batter but due to a series his misfortune never got to the level he deserved. Tiwary made his first-class debut for Bengal in 2004 at Eden Gardens and soon made a name for himself. He rose to fame in the 2006-07 Ranji Trophy season when he broke some Bengal records and scored 796 runs at an average of 99.50.

Post this remarkable season, he was named in the Indian squad touring Bangladesh under captain Rahul Dravid. The then-21-year-old Manoj Tiwary was all set to make his debut in Mirpur in the first but unfortunately injured his shoulder on the eve of the match and could not make his debut in that series.

Manoj sustained a shoulder injury in Mirpur which halted his international debut in 2007.  Image | AFP
Manoj sustained a shoulder injury in Mirpur which halted his international debut in 2007. Image | AFP

He finally made his debut one year later in Brisbane, a ground famous for another fellow Bengali Sourav Gnaguly's iconic inning. But a jetlagged Manoj could not get the better of a scorching yorker from Brett Lee and had to wait for three years for his next international match.

 A young Manoj Tiwary could not got the better of Breet Lee's yorker in his debut game in Brisbane.
A young Manoj Tiwary could not got the better of Breet Lee's yorker in his debut game in Brisbane.

Despite another few great seasons with the bat for Bengal, Manoj had to wait till 2011 to play his second ODI game in West Indies. This time he was asked to replace an under-performing Shikhar Dhawan. Though he had never opened in his first-class career till then, Manoj agreed to open and could only manage to score 2 in the first game. But, he looked good for his run-a-ball 22 in the last match of the series when he was pushed down the order and played in his favourite middle-order position.

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Tiwary would be given another chance in India's tour to England to replace Rohit Sharma and was dropped after just playing one game in the second ODI in Southampton. Tiwary batted at number seven position and scored 11 from 7 in a 23-over game due to rain.

A dejected Manoj Tiwary after getting out on 24 against England at Eden Gardens.  Image | Getty Images
A dejected Manoj Tiwary after getting out on 24 against England at Eden Gardens. Image | Getty Images

His next match would be at his favourite Eden Gardens in the 5th ODI against the touring England team. Tiwary batted at number four and scored a 30-ball to 24 before perishing against Stuart Meaker. A few days later, he made his T20I debut in the one-off T20I games against England at Eden Gardens.

In every series, Manoj had to wait for someone to get injured or till the last match of the series to get his chance to play. He was never trusted with back-to-back games that players like Kohli, Rohit or others got during that period. Yes, it was evident that he had some stiff competition within the team, but never got the trust from the team management to get a long shot at the international level.

Manoj Tiwary scored his only ODI ton against West Indies in Chennai on December 11, 2011.  Image | Getty Images
Manoj Tiwary scored his only ODI ton against West Indies in Chennai on December 11, 2011. Image | Getty Images

Manoj's time for glory finally came when he scored his first and only ODI century against the touring West Indies team in Chennai. In the last game of the series, Manoj scored an unbeaten 104 in 126 balls under tough humid conditions and had to retire hurt after scoring his ton.

A happy Manoj  Tiwary after getting his fourth wicket against Sri Lanka in 2012.  Image | Getty Images
A happy Manoj Tiwary after getting his fourth wicket against Sri Lanka in 2012. Image | Getty Images

However, despite scoring a ton, he was mysteriously benched for months and was not selected in the final eleven until the 4th ODI against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka in 2012. Tiwary this time showed his all-round skill and was the pick of the bowler with 4 wickets and scored 21 runs in the second inning in a match famous for Virat Kohli's unbeaten 128 from 119 balls.

In the next match, Manoj scored a good 65 from 68 balls and helped India put 294 in the first inning. He was then named in the ICC T20 World Cup 2012 where he did not play a single game.

Post that, a few injuries kept on troubling him over the next two domestic seasons and he returned to the Bengal team after an 8-month layoff in the 2013-14 Vijay Hazare Trophy. After taking Bengal to the semi-final of the tournament, Manoj was again recalled for India's tour to Bangladesh in 2014. He was again selected for the one and final game of the series despite India sending a second-string team.

Manoj then played his last and final ODIs for India in India's tour to Zimbabwe and for the first time in a series, he played all the games of the series. However, after a string of low scores in those three games, Manoj was dropped from the team and never was recalled again despite performing well in the domestic circuit.

Manoj Tiwary scored his onlt first-class triple century in 2019-20 season in Kalyani.  Image | PTI
Manoj Tiwary scored his onlt first-class triple century in 2019-20 season in Kalyani. Image | PTI

Manoj was successful in the Indian Premier League as well. He was one of the backbone of KKR's middle order that won the 2012 IPL. He hit the winning runs for KKR to lift the trophy. He played for four teams in the IPL. He scored his only first-class triple century in the 2019-20 Ranji Trophy season in Kalyani.

As after 147 first-class games he is set to hang his boots, we all can conclude that, with more support, and fewer injuries in important times he could have been one of the stars of the Indian team. Yes, competition with Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina and others in the middle order for India made it tough for him as well. But, he was never given a long run to settle in the team. He is one of the unluckiest batters to never get the test cap as well despite scoring tons of runs in the domestic circuit.

Off-the field, Manoj was very vocal and never shied away from speaking his heart out. He used to back that up with tons of runs as well in every season. He had his presence and aura whenever he donned that Bengal jersey and Bengal fans had nicknamed him chhota dada (in reference to Sourav Ganguly's nickname, dada).

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