New Delhi: Bengal's star batsman and current captain Manoj Tiwary bounced back from two indifferent rounds in the ongoing Ranji Trophy season with an innings of 191 against Gujarat this week, in an attempt to boost his chances of a Test call-up.
The 27-year-old, who was overlooked for the first two Tests against England, spoke to Cricketnext about his continuous non-selection in the Test squad, his current form, and who he takes inspiration from. Excerpts ...
You have played 11 limited-overs matches since your India debut in 2008. In eight ODIs, you average almost 36 with a century and half-century in your last three matches. Still, you are not getting opportunities. Your thoughts?
The Bengal captain opens up on his continuous non-selection in the Test squad, his current form, and who he takes inspiration from.
MS Dhoni had a word with me in Bangladesh [during the Asia Cup] and told me that I will get an opportunity. These are the challenges I am facing. It is not easy for me to handle all these. I take inspiration from Oscar Pistorius [South African Paralympic Olympian]. Compared to him, my challenge is nothing.
What more do you think you have to do to get a chance in the Indian team?
At this stage of my career I can't do much apart from scoring runs. The more big runs I score the more chances will be more available. My case will be stronger as far as selection is concerned.
Sandeep Patil and Co. opted for Ajinkya Rahane as a middle-order batsman for the first two Tests against England, though he is a genuine opener and you are a genuine middle-order batsman scoring runs. What is your take on that?
(Laughs) You have to ask that to the selectors. I can't say anything on that.
Do you believe that you were born in a wrong era?
I think I am facing lot of challenges in my career and my life also. I am trying to handle them. I love challenges. I have always done well and I believe I have the ability to score runs. If I get a chance I am damn sure that I will get runs.
But don't you think that if aren't get selected now, when in prime form, it will be a disadvantage for you?
Personally, I do not think there is anything called prime time. My thought process is very clear; as long as you have faith in yourself you are in your prime. Whatever age you are, it is all about your thought process. If you think you are not doing well then you will never do well. I feel I am always in my prime.
Do you think that at the moment scoring runs is not the only criteria to get into the Indian side?
Seriously, I do not have anything to say on this. I can only improve my game. Nobody is perfect. I just try to work hard in the nets. I give as much as time possible to my cricket. I prepare myself and whenever I will get a chance I am very confident of scoring runs.
Do you think Sachin Tendulkar's presence in the middle order blocking the way of young players like you?
No, I do not think so.
When you were ignored for the Test squad, did Yuvraj Singh's return give you any inspiration? You have recently said that the way he made his comeback has been a great influence for you.
Personally, I have very few people in my inspiration list but he is the latest addition. Coming straight from cancer very few people would think of resuming their careers again. It is not a joke. Whenever I met him, I see desperateness in his eyes. He is a big brother to me.
Bengal cricket's presence in the BCCI is very weak. Do you think that could be blocking your path?
I do not know, I generally do not think much on selection lines, to be honest. But I think the guys who are getting selected are scoring lot of runs. I have to wait and I have to keep scoring runs. I feel it is a matter of time before I get an opportunity.
The selection committee will be selecting the team again for third and fourth Tests soon. What are your expectations?
I have stopped expecting anything from life, not only cricket but as a whole. If you do not get selected you feel very disappointed. It goes on and it hampers your present life. My job is to score runs and the rest I have left to destiny.
How are you taking the Ranji Trophy at the moment, both as a batsman and as the captain of Bengal?
Being one of the senior players of the side I have to lead from the front. Thankfully, I have done well over the last few seasons. There are players in Bengal who can score runs consistently. Bengal cricket is going in the right direction and the day is not far when the Ranji Trophy will be in our hands. As a batsman, I do not set targets, honestly. We play in different conditions and its hard to set targets for that. I play according to the situations. Naturally, I am an aggressive player but I have to curve my instinct according to the situation.
What does this innings of 191 mean to you at this point?
I try to contribute every time. Whatever the scores ... 191, 100, 20 or 30 ... if it helps my team I am happy. That satisfies me.
Sourav Ganguly has said that you should have been in the Test side. What is your take on that?
It is so kind of him. I have grown up watching him in Kolkata. I always look up to him. Whatever I have learnt from him I try to apply on my game. He is always been a mentor to the Bengal players.
You've garnered a lot of support from social media. There are people who are from outside Bengal who are backing you for selection. What is your reaction to this?
The love and affection they showed for me, I really appreciate that. I try and connect with everyone. Lately, I am not using Facebook since I am more on Twitter. They are not fans, they are my friends. I firmly believe that their wishes do make a difference.