Sri Lanka v India, 5th ODI, Pallekele August 4, 2012

Tiwary stakes his claim

Manoj Tiwary has had to wait for his chances. But with contributions in two consecutive games, has he done enough to deserve an extended run?

Manoj Tiwary and Rohit Sharma seem to demand a joint narrative. Rohit was at the crease when Tiwary walked in to bat on India debut in February 2008. Rohit broke his finger last year in England and Tiwary was flown in as replacement. The Rohit v Tiwary debate has played on and on this series in the media. At almost every press conference, the team management has made it clear who it prefers. Gautam Gambhir has raved about Rohit's talent and has said that Tiwary should be prepared to grab any opportunity that comes his way. Tiwary did just that today with a busy fifty in only his seventh game in 14 months since his comeback in the West Indies. And yes, on his way to the middle, he passed Rohit, who was on his way back after a miserable run of 5, 0, 0, 4 and 4 in the series.

Just put yourself in Tiwary's shoes for a moment. After making 104* against West Indies in December 2011, he was on the bench for 14 consecutive games in three different countries. In that period, Rohit averaged 14.54 in 11 innings. Gambhir said that getting dropped would dent Rohit's confidence. Nobody talked about Tiwary's confidence. It was almost as if he didn't exist.

Tiwary-on-the-bench jokes had become common on Twitter. The man himself gave nothing away. He would carry his kitbag to the ground and dutifully go through practice with a blank expression. Probably the most emotion he showed was when he grinned after effortlessly dribbling the ball past his young peers such as Rohit and Virat Kohli during a game of football.

As far as attractiveness of play, or what is known as "looking good", goes, Tiwary pales before Rohit. Rohit makes even getting beaten look beautiful. Even when he edges a fast bowler in nets, you end up looking at the graceful arc of the bat his attempted drive makes. Tiwary does not have such luxury. Even when he is in control in the middle, he can look tentative.

His instinct initially appears to be to go leg side. He walks across to nudge to square leg, he plays that flick extravagantly in the air from outside off through square leg, he chips over midwicket, he paddles fine from the stumps. That last stroke led to his dismissal in the fourth game. He appears to take too many risks too soon, but he is a busy kind of batsman.

In the end, Tiwary made more runs on the off side today than on the leg. He stepped out to loft the offspinner Sachithra Senanayake over mid-off for a couple of fours. He drove the legspinner Jeevan Mendis between sweeper cover and long-off. His best stroke was when he charged out to thump the fast bowler Nuwan Pradeep - who had troubled him before with pace and bounce - between extra cover and mid-off. There were two close caught-behind appeals against him but he was on 46 by then, and had already proved his point.

Duncan Fletcher, the India coach, said Tiwary had produced the results under pressure. "His temperament has shown that he is up for the big occasion," Fletcher said. "He's basically made people stand up and look at him. He is a serious contender for a regular place in the one-day side."

In both games he got this series, Tiwary didn't let the innings get bogged down despite coming in at 60 for 3 and 87 for 3. Despite knowing that one failure could mean another prolonged spell on the bench. Despite knowing that his seems to be a thankless task; that even success could mean another prolonged spell on the bench. India's next ODI series is against Pakistan in December. That is too far away. Don't bet on Tiwary getting consecutive ODIs after this half-century. After all, he had to wait 14 games on the bench after a century.

Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on August 7, 2012, 8:49 GMT

    No one disagrees with the fact that Rohit has a certain class which the likes of Inzamam, Ganguly, Laxman has, and makes batting look attractive but class alone doesn't merits you a place in the XI. 85 matches is a good enough outing for anyone. Kambli might be more talented than Dravid but it's the latter who proved to the world. I feel Tiwary is the same.. there is hardly any difference between them when you compare their first class records. both average a close to 60.. But Tiwary has won matches single handed for Bengal and also has led whereas Rohit has the privileges of Rahane, Nayar, Jaffer and others.. For me it's Tiwary, way ahead of Rohit

  • Shiv on August 6, 2012, 20:57 GMT

    @battingaboveyouraverage - There is no denying the laurels MS has bought to the country but that does mean we have Sunny G or Kapil D in our team and keep worshiping them. He is a great ODI and T20 player but for Test forget about captaincy he does not even deserve a spot in the team. The point is about his stubbornness to change. There is methodolgy to his thinking, when it works its fine but if it does not you have to adapt to change, that is where MS falls short. Primary reason IMO for the 8-0 drubbing was this narrow mindset.

  • Dummy4 on August 6, 2012, 17:25 GMT

    @ battingaboveyouraverage , you talk as if Dhoni is responsible for all the successes and failures that Indian team is through over the last 5 years. A captain is as good as his team and its very evident that he has favorites, there is no denying that. There is nothing wrong in persisting with a player for a longer time if he is playing reasonably well, but giving too many chances even when the person is failing is unacceptable.

  • H on August 6, 2012, 15:05 GMT

    @ProdigyA - Get of the Dhoni bashing band wagon. Bet you were cheering him when he guided India to WC. Guided India to No1 test status for 2 odd years, First ever T20 WC champions and the best Wicket keeper captain.

    you can't call him biased as he always tries to give the younger members of the team a chance.

    Gautam, I love the guy, but worrying whether you affect a young players confidence if dropping him. is Rohit to be wrapped in cotton wool. is he mentally not stung enough at the top level? over the last year results seem to say he is!

    After this series you won't have to worry about that because if we see Rohit in the India team before Tiwary, someones definiltley wrong. I don't think the guy, let alone anyone else, deserves that many chances.

    Tiwary needs a good crack at being an international for India. he has to be picked for the upcoming England tour and Pakistan series.

  • Tanmay on August 6, 2012, 14:37 GMT

    it is clear Dhoni has favourites...Raina-Jadeja-Rohit top the list....had Gambhir been the skipper most certainly Rohit & Raina would not have featured in starting 11...they would not have got places in 16 too...the performances of Manoj Tiwary & Irfan Pathan would be eye opener for Dhoni who doesnt like to change 11 irrespective of outcome of match.

  • Tanmay on August 6, 2012, 14:30 GMT

    @ Arnab Banerjee - Ganguly was a superb leader,he changed Indian cricket for good... but i disagree with you...even in Ganguly's reign regionalism existed...the likes of Deep Das Gupta & SS Das were regular fixtures in Indian team.

  • Tanmay on August 6, 2012, 14:28 GMT

    i agree with Harsh Joshi...Madras players like Vijay,Dinesh Karthick were given many chances but they failed to capitalise & atlast they were shown the door...Srikkanth even tried average players like Mukund & Badrinath in the Indian team but they failed too...!

  • Shiv on August 6, 2012, 13:34 GMT

    This is where i hate Dhoni. His narrow thinking and adamantness has cost India many times. He thinks in certain ways and is very very reluctant to think outside of it. Best example is Irfan and now Manoj. Poor chap is better bat, bowl and field than Rohit but still keeps persisting with the same mistakes again n again. There are other teams who would kill to have guyz like Manoj, Pujara, Rahane in their team and here we are just wasting them.

  • Dummy4 on August 6, 2012, 13:00 GMT

    @Pady Srini.........Madras players too got enough chances under Srikanth and Co....m mumbaikar and believe Rohit should be dropped asap

  • sri on August 6, 2012, 12:39 GMT

    Sorry No tiwary No rohit both are IPL products noting more. Tiwary made some runs so did rohit in previous tours against ZIM/WI at home

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