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Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Batting for Bengal: Ranji team star by day, minister and TMC MLA at night

An aggressive right-handed batsman who represented India in 12 one-day internationals and three T20s, Tiwary is fully aware that his Team India dream is over, and his non-selection in the last IPL auction has also brought down the curtains on his participation in that tournament.

Written by Devendra Pandey | Mumbai |
Updated: June 17, 2022 7:17:00 am
manoj tiwaryManoj Tiwary with Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee (Twitter/ManojTiwary)

FROM RESCUING the Bengal Ranji team by hitting a century during the day, to wading through files of official documents, as West Bengal’s Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports and Trinamool Congress MLA from Shibpur, in the evening — it’s all in a day’s work for Manoj Tiwary.

Multi-tasking to strike a balance between his two roles, as a sitting minister and cricketer, is a big ask. When his team-mates hit the ice baths and put their feet up to re-energise in the evenings, Tiwary (36) says he dives right into official work.

“There is a lot of constituency work — someone may need a letter for an Aadhaar card, some small issues here and there. At the same time, we need to ensure that our government schemes reach the people,” says Tiwary, adding, “I have got used to it now”.

“There are many files and documents which need to be signed. So my day is long. As I am playing and cannot go to my constituency office, I have asked them to courier the files here. I sign the files and send them back, so that my work doesn’t get hampered. I then call my office and check the status of pending work. I have people who give me daily feedback on things which need to be done,” he says.

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His first constituency, cricket, too placed a heavy demand on him in the Ranji Trophy semi-final against Madhya Pradesh at Bengaluru on Thursday. MP were bundled out for 341 runs on the second day and Bengal reached 273 runs, mainly due to Tiwary’s 103.

When his team-mates hit the ice baths and put their feet up to re-energise in the evenings, Tiwary (36) says he dives right into official work. (Express Photo)

Bengal were wobbling at 11 for 3 in under four overs when Tiwary walked in. Soon, they were 54 for 5 but Tiwary, in the company of centurion Shahbaz Ahmed, lifted Bengal towards respectability. “I have been in such situations before. It’s just about keeping your head down and playing session by session. I told Shahbaz that we need to try and stay there as much as possible, runs will come later,” says Tiwary.

An aggressive right-handed batsman who represented India in 12 one-day internationals and three T20s, Tiwary is fully aware that his Team India dream is over, and his non-selection in the last IPL auction has also brought down the curtains on his participation in that tournament.

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The question, then, is why does he still play professional cricket?

“It’s my dream that Bengal wins the Ranji Trophy one day. I wanted it to happen when I was captain, but sadly that wasn’t so. Now, there is a desire to be part of the winning Ranji Trophy team at least once in my lifetime. It’s the only reason which has kept me motivated,” he says.

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After he hit a century on Thursday, Tiwary took out a note from his pocket and flashed it towards the Bengal dressing room. He had scribbled a “thank you” note to his family for supporting him.

“It’s not been easy. Earlier, I used to just play cricket and was on the road. Now, I don’t get any time at all. There are days when I reach home at 1 in the night and leave early next morning for the party’s programme. My wife has been a pillar of support behind me,” he says.

Just after he joined the Trinamool Congress ahead of the Assembly elections last year, Tiwary had told The Indian Express that it was a phone call from party chief Mamata Banerjee that made him join the poll fray. “Manoj Tiwary will continue to call a spade a spade. When everybody is deserting Didi — those who were in the party for so long are now running away — I didn’t want to take it lying down. This is in my blood. I will stand by a person who gives her everything for Bengal. I always wanted to work for people and contribute to society in this difficult situation,” he had said.

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First published on: 17-06-2022 at 04:00:12 am

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