Manoj Tiwary uncharacteristically slapped his thigh in celebration after scoring his 28th first-class hundred in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal against Jharkhand on Friday as a tribute to Punjabi singer Sidhu Moose Wala, who was killed last month.
“It is something I normally hesitate to do. This was a tribute to a famous singer from Punjab who was recently murdered – Sidhu Moose Wala. He used to do this gesture. I felt really sad about the fact that such a talented guy has been killed just because of competition and rivalry. I love hearing his songs. This gesture was from a human being to a human being,” Tiwary said.
Having made his first-class debut for Bengal in 2004, the century on Friday was Tiwary’s first since joining politics.
“Obviously, it is a special one (hundred) because a lot of people raised questions and said what is the need to play cricket after joining politics. I pity people who say such things. They don’t understand a player’s feelings,” the Minister of State for Sports and Youth Affairs in the West Bengal government said.
‘Cricket has helped me deal with situations in politics. You gain so much experience on the cricket field – happiness, sadness, regrets, opportunities, distrust. Politics has not helped me in cricket but it’s the other way round’
Before the start of Ranji Trophy 2021-22, which began in February earlier this year, Tiwary’s last outing in competitive cricket came in January 2021 in a Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy match. Following a forgettable run in the league stage of the Ranji Trophy, in which he scored 115 runs in six innings at an average of 19.16, Tiwary proved his mettle with scores of 73 and 136 in the quarterfinal and helped Bengal march into the semifinal on the basis of a mammoth 475-run first innings lead against Jharkhand.
“Whenever there was a training session, I did my best to be there. I did miss a couple of training sessions but when you play first-class cricket for 18 years, you know what needs to be done to stand on the field for five days,” he said when asked about dealing with the lack of match practice.
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“My wife has been very supportive. It’s a thankless job and I want to dedicate this hundred and the win to her,” Tiwary said, crediting his wife for helping him balance politics and cricket.
“Cricket has helped me deal with situations in politics. You gain so much experience on the cricket field – happiness, sadness, regrets, opportunities, distrust. Politics has not helped me in cricket but it’s the other way round,” he added.
After 18 years of representing Bengal in first-class cricket, the coveted Ranji Trophy title continues to elude Tiwary, who has lost three finals (2005-06, 2006-07 and 2019-20).
“I have been very close to becoming a Ranji champion but was unlucky three times. Before I retire, I want to hold that Ranji Trophy,” the 36-year-old said.
Tiwary will have an eye on his fourth final and Bengal its second successive when they take on Madhya Pradesh in the first semifinal on Tuesday.