Manoj Tiwary aims to step up for Kolkata
Bengal batsman Manoj Tiwary has said he'll be aiming for match-winning performances in the IPL this year, while his franchise, Kolkata Knight Riders - who are coming off three poor seasons - will be concentrating on making it past the group stage before thinking of a maiden title.
"We have a new team and a new captain [Gautam Gambhir]. Our first goal would be qualify for the semis and then take the final two steps," Tiwary told the Times of India. "Personally, I would be looking to score consistently and I'm targeting four or five Man-of-the-Match awards."
Tiwary captained Bengal to victory in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy - India's domestic Twenty20 competition - this year. He played for Delhi Daredevils in the first two IPL seasons, before moving Kolkata in 2010 and will provide the main local connect for fans in the absence of Sourav Ganguly.
"To be honest, I didn't have a proper feel of the IPL in the first two seasons. In my first season with the Delhi Daredevils, I batted in the middle order where opportunities were rather limited - with Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Shikhar Dhawan in top form, the lower order didn't have much to do," he said. "In the second season, in South Africa, I got injured after playing just one match and didn't play thereafter.
"It was only after I moved to Kolkata Knight Riders in 2010 that I got a real feel of the competition. I learnt a lot about batting in T20 cricket from Brad Hodge."
Though predominantly a batsman and an agile fielder, Tiwary has filled the role of a handy part-time bowler on the domestic circuit and this is an aspect of his game he'll be looking to further during the IPL. "I would be looking to contribute substantially in all three departments of the game." In a Kolkata practice match earlier this week, Tiwary made 86 off 44 balls batting at No. 3, but he's not certain of where he will bat in the line-up.
"I was asked to open the innings [in 2010] which I was not accustomed to doing, but I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge. It [opening the batting this season] depends on the role assigned to me by the team management."
The entry of Yusuf Pathan and Brett Lee gives the new-look Kolkata side an edge, Tiwary said. "We have a very balanced side [this year] and can go all the way. L Balaji is a very effective bowler in T20, while [Jaidev] Unadkat is quite sharp. And I am looking forward to playing alongside [Jacques] Kallis, [Brad] Haddin, [Eoin] Morgan, Shakib [Al Hasan] and [Ryan] ten Doeschate."
Kolkata take on Chennai Super Kings in the opening IPL match, on April 8 in Chennai.