India A v England XI, Mumbai, 1st day October 30, 2012

Tiwary stakes his claim for Test No. 6

Yuvraj Singh is a frontrunner for the No. 6 slot in India's Test team, but Manoj Tiwary has entered the race with a compelling innings against England XI

Just as Yuvraj Singh appeared to be on his way to confirming his return to the Test squad, with an attacking knock for India A against England XI, he was beaten in the flight by offspinner Graeme Swann.

And by the end of the first day, despite Yuvraj having emerged as a frontrunner for that vacant No. 6 slot, Manoj Tiwary ensured the race had been expanded to a three-way duel. Tiwary joined Yuvraj and Suresh Raina as contenders, with a splendid 93 that helped lift a faltering India A to 369 for 9.

As Tiwary said, the England XI bowlers were not really at 100%, having arrived in India only a day earlier. In addition to that, their quickest bowler Steven Finn hurt his right quadriceps muscle early in the day and did not take the field thereafter. Yet, Tiwary's effort was impressive, because it came when the team needed it.

He took guard when India A were 140 for 4, with the captain Suresh Raina having joined M Vijay, Ajinkya Rahane and Abhinav Mukund back in the pavilion. Soon after, Yuvraj's onslaught was over and the team was reduced to 168 for 5, with more than half the day's play remaining.

Tiwary, along with Irfan Pathan, ensured the England XI bowlers had to stay in the field all day long. He played both the spinners - Swann and left-arm bowler Samit Patel - with flair, a lofted inside-out drive that crossed the cover boundary in no time being his stand-out stroke.

Though he could not see off the second new ball, and was bowled by Tim Bresnan in the sixth over after it was taken, Tiwary had risen to the occasion. After all, despite being a regular in India's limited-overs squad over the past 18 months, Tiwary has hardly got any game time.

When it comes to Test selection, his plentiful runs on the domestic circuit have been overlooked due to the previous selectors' apparent belief that he isn't technically equipped to excel in the longest format at the highest level.

Tiwary admitted that watching "inspirational videos on YouTube" helps him keep going: "I do a random search and whatever comes my way, I watch it. I have seen Derek Redmond's [former British 400m runner] run; that gets me pumped up."

Tiwary has also been working on his legspin, to present a stronger case to the selectors. "If you are in the team, as days go by you know what to do. The best thing I did is that I worked hard in the nets and I worked on my bowling as well, because it is not easy to get into the Indian team nowadays, there is so much competition," he said. "I want to contribute in all the three departments, today the batting clicked and hopefully if the bowling comes up I will give my best."

He is ready, Tiwary said, to take the step up to the Test level. "There is competition for the No. 6 slot but it is up to the selectors to decide now. I tried my level best to do well for the team. Let's see what happens because there is still a long way to go. But I would say that I am ready for Test cricket."

Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Unmesh on October 31, 2012, 16:02 GMT

    @HarishVS and others who are looking forward to Rohit's performance in Mumbai A versus England XI warm-up match, Rohit has not even been selected in Mumbai A team! It seems the selectors are not even considering Rohit a contender for the Test spot which is frustrating. Not selecting Rohit in India A squad may make some sense (although I don't agree with that), but not selecting him in the Mumbai A squad to play against England is real injustice. I know that Mumbai Ranji team will have matches around that time, but it would have made more sense to give Rohit a chance against England at least in Mumbai A team.

  • Rakesh on October 31, 2012, 15:28 GMT

    Not sure why some people are still not convinced about Yuvi being #6 batsman. He is needed in the team just to get Kev out !!!

  • kanishka on October 31, 2012, 15:15 GMT

    I would pick Yuvi for the number 6 slot, not so much for his batting, which is erratic, but because we desperately need a 5th bowler. His bowling has improved of late, and when England are piling on the runs, our first line bowlers will need a break. I am less worried about our batting than our bowling. Ashwin and Ohja haven't been tested against real opposition and Zaheer is no more the force he used to be. I can't imagine that Yadav will have much of an impact either. I agree that our team looks very ordinary at this point. Sehwag at 34 is unreliable, and Sachin at 39 has, at best, a couple more series. If he is not going to SA, it is time to put somebody in the no. 4 slot soon; otherwise, we will pay a heavy price overseas. Anyway, here is my team, for what it is worth: Sehwag, Gambhir, Pujara, Sachin, Kohli, Yuvi, Dhoni, Ashwin, Zaheer, Ohja, Yadav. 12th man-Raina

  • S on October 31, 2012, 14:34 GMT

    If there is one thing we should have learned by losing 8 tests on the trot over in England and Australia its this: both our openers (Sehwag and Gambhir) are useless against the moving and rising ball; neither Yuvi nor Raina has what it takes to succeed in test-match conditions abroad; Sachin is well past his sell-by date; we don't have a single bowler who can take wickets anywhere outside the subcontinent. Heck, the entire team is full of vacancies - and here we are discussing how hard it is to break into this Indian team. What is hard is getting our selectors to wake up to reality - but then, as the fans on cricinfo routinely demonstrate with their comments, we get the selectors we deserve.

  • shameek on October 31, 2012, 14:28 GMT

    definitely yuvi is the guy for the no.6 spot in the test squad......he deserves it ........but i also feel that given a chance team should also give manoj tiwary some oppurtunity to play some matches be it any format.... records and stats apart noone can deny the fact that tiwary has worked his way up to atleast bid his name for a position in the team.....and the team, if they can give this many chances to a guy like mr.talent(rohit) they can also give some chance to a hardworker like tiwary....and i also dnt think pujara by any means has cemented his place he has to score some more runs to fix that no.3 slot.....and what better time he could get than this upcoming series to do that....

  • Dummy4 on October 31, 2012, 14:26 GMT

    To add on my previous entry .. We will have three classy youngsters to carry on the pressure of the middle order and this will give us time to test out other players for the openers spot which I believe will be open very soon. Its time for Sehwag. He is just turning out to be a liability to the team. I think chand should be tried out with gambhir. He is right handed and is also attacking with cool head and on top of every thing he is very young. We should experiement with another youngster only after we settle down with pujara, Rohit, Kohli in the middle order.(Please No RAINA. It pains me to even see him being a contender for middle order.)People talk a lot about Rahanae, Mukund. Guys are you blind. They are not made for international cricket. Mukund reminds me of Ramesh. Rahane dosent have it in him to be a test cricketer. You got to have flair and that special appeal to be an international star. Sachin, Dravid,Gangs, Lax all have it. I dont even wana mention Badri he is not worth it

  • Dummy4 on October 31, 2012, 14:15 GMT

    Its really happy to see people realizing the talent of Rohit. Tiwary, Raina will not succeed in the test level. They just dont have it in them. Its just either you have it or not .. unfortunately for those who support them will have to take this hard pill. I am a strong believer of Yuvi for no 6 spot .. he is flamboyant and he can play well with tail can raise the tempo if needed. Even if Rohit scores big on nov 2 I believe it should be Yuvi who should claim the No.6 spot. He adds great value to team with his bowling and also being leftie helps to the team's cause. I think Rohit should go back to domestic or a county team for a season and score big to claim spot in the team XI in the next test series as I think this would be the last series of Sachin. Sachin is wobling in the crease. Its so disheartening to see master getting out bowled again and again. My team would be Viru, Gamb, Pujara, Rohit, Kohli, Yuvi, Dohni, Ashwin, Ojha, Ishant, Yadav. This team has class, Style, Pace and spin

  • Dummy4 on October 31, 2012, 13:02 GMT

    If those who need to retire, retires and those who need to be dropped, dropped..., then there is enough space for Yuvi, AND Raina AND Tiwari. Hey, Mr Sandip Patil, if those who don't own on their own volition, show your guts to nudge them. You can start with some great Mumbai / Mumbai Indian players (great, by past tense, neither present nor future)

  • Sean on October 31, 2012, 12:03 GMT

    This will reduce the average age of the india team to 35

  • Vikram on October 31, 2012, 11:27 GMT

    And about the best Contender for the No. 6 spot it has to be Yuvi without any doubt.... lets see how he performs for the Eng tour.. and may be after if at all yuvi fails to capitalise, we should have second thoughts, till then... Yuvi should get a go...

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