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Manoj Tiwary hints at retirement at the end of ongoing season

Leading Bengal in Abhimanyu Easwaran's absence, Tiwary wants his team to take their game to "the next level" to try and win the Ranji Trophy

Rajan Raj
Manoj Tiwary tries to get his field right, Bengal vs Uttar Pradesh, Ranji Trophy 2022-23, Kolkata, 1st day, December 13, 2022

"We have to play like champions. We won today, but it's not like we played exceptional cricket"  •  CAB

Manoj Tiwary has hinted that the ongoing 2022-23 season of the Ranji Trophy could be his last in first-class cricket, but he wants to make sure "to give Bengal a Ranji Trophy title on my way out".
Tiwary, who is in charge of Bengal because regular captain Abhimanyu Easwaran is away on national duty, led the from the front as the side, chasing 257 for victory against Uttar Pradesh at Eden Gardens, got to the target for the loss of four wickets in their Elite Group A game. Tiwary got in at 156 for 3 and ended with an unbeaten 60.
"We have to play like champions. We won today, but it's not like we played exceptional cricket," Tiwary, also a member of the legislative assembly in West Bengal, told reporters after the match. "If we look session-by-session, there were phases when we bowled badly. And our opening batters must score runs. If we want to win the Ranji Trophy, we must take our game to the next level."
Bengal have won the Ranji Trophy only twice in all these years, once way back in 1938-39 and then in 1989-90. Tiwary, who started playing first-class cricket in the 2004-05 season, has played the Ranji final thrice: in 2005-06, 2006-07 and, more recently, in 2019-20.
"I am quite relaxed about leading the team," the 37-year-old Tiwary said. "When I stepped down as the first-class captain of Bengal [during the 2018-19 season], I was told to continue as captain of the one-day and T20 sides, but I had refused, telling them that we need to groom a younger player as captain. But [in Abhimanyu's absence], I realised I have to take this responsibility because decision-making is such a crucial part of the game."
Though he did ask for more from the bowling unit - which was missing Mukesh Kumar, who was out in Bangladesh with India A - Tiwary had words of praise for his pace spearhead Ishan Porel, who hasn't played a lot of cricket of late but earned the Player-of-the-Match award against Uttar Pradesh for his match haul of seven wickets, including a five-for in the first innings.
"Porel's comeback has been quite good," Tiwary said. "He wasn't available for the Vijay Hazare [50-over] Trophy tournament, but he proved his worth here. I have spoken to him: we are playing at a level where we must forget what has happened in the past; every minute, every second, we must tell the world why I am Ishan Porel, or why I am Manoj Tiwary. That is the mentality that will help him become a champion."
Bengal's next game is against Himachal Pradesh, also at home at Eden Gardens, from December 20.

Rajan Raj is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo Hindi