Manoj Tiwary is usually in the news on two counts. Having been on the sidelines of the Indian team for years, and getting injured at crucial times in his career. He also has a first-class average of close to 60, and a List A average of 40. His class was on display at Wankhede Stadium as he took the North Zone attack for 151 in East Zone's total of 273 for 8 to set up a 52-run win in the Deodhar Trophy semi-final.
Tiwary came in at 33 for 2 in the 12th over and was seventh man out in the last over, having hit 15 fours and four sixes in 121 deliveries for his highest List A score and third hundred. Not only was he faced with a repair job following a slow, wobbly start, his first three partners also threw away starts.
Shreevats Goswami ticked along to 43 and pulled a half-tracker to midwicket. Saurabh Tiwary heaved and nicked behind for 17. Biplab Samantray chipped a full toss to long-on for 10. Tiwary carried on as if nothing had happened.
Tiwary can be a shaky starter, but he was in superb touch this innings right from the start. Fifth ball, he skipped out to lift Parvez Rasool for a straight six. The next ball was lofted cleanly over mid-off for four. Rasool was the most economical of the North Zone bowlers. The Jammu & Kashmir offspinning allrounder was tossing it up with control on off stump and generating bounce from the Wankhede surface, but Tiwary wasn't troubled.
Probably the shot of his innings was when he leaned forward on 24 to drive the medium-pacer Vikas Tokas on the up for a straight four.
Tiwary scored freely off all the frontline North Zone bowlers, and was particularly severe on Amit Mishra, pulling, sweeping, driving and lofting for 48 off 35 deliveries from the legspinner. He reached 50 off 42 balls, 100 off 93 and took 27 more deliveries to zoom past 150.
East Zone were 178 for 5 after 40 overs. They took 95 off the last ten, Tiwary swinging sixes and steering fours to make 62 of those.
Manan Vohra and Unmukt Chand departed early in the chase and the 100-odd spectators, who came in free, cheered the arrival of Yuvraj Singh, leading North Zone in the absence of the ill Harbhajan Singh. Yuvraj lasted ten deliveries, going after a full and wide one off Samantray's strictly mediums and nicking behind.
Gurkeerat Singh revived North Zone from 29 for 3 to the extent that they kept pace for a while with an asking-rate of eight. There was a 74-run stand with Mandeep Singh, who moved to 40 before he stepped out and got a leading edge off Saurasish Lahiri.
Gurkeerat built another partnership, putting on 71 off 79 with Rishi Dhawan, both batsmen calmly collecting 35 off the batting Powerplay. Gurkeerat was severe square on both sides of the wicket. Six of his ten fours were cut or punched while two were hooked.
North Zone needed another 100 off 67 but they had six wickets standing and Gurkeerat was in flow. But he flicked Samantray off his pad to deep midwicket to walk back banging his bat on his helmet in frustration for 83 off 99.
Eight balls later, Rasool slogged Lahiri to deep midwicket. Two overs later, the Bengal offspinner had Dhawan caught behind for 38, and North Zone were soon dismissed for 221. Fittingly, Tiwary picked up the final wicket, when Kumar Deobrat lofted the East Zone captain's only delivery of the game, a loopy legbreak to long-on.