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Saurabh Tiwary hopes for another shot on IPL return

Saurabh Tiwary no longer possessed the fear factor that he did in his early days.

Written by Siddhartha Sharma | New Delhi |
Updated: May 5, 2015 11:41:16 am

Saurabh Tiwary’s rise to the cricketing stage was quite dream-like, almost as if it was part of a Bollywood script. He looked the part too with his long flowing mane adorned with the eye-catching highlights. And the early part of his cricketing journey was in fast-forward mode. One day he was playing in the U-19 World Cup, then suddenly he was an IPL star and before long he was donning India colours in an ODI against Australia at Visakhapatnam. Soon, he was raking in a $1.6 million contract with Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB).

The fall from grace though too came as rapidly as the rise. And these days, not only are the locks gone, Tiwary also struggles to turn heads like he used to. More often than not, these days the 25-year-old ends up making the numbers in the Delhi Daredevils squad, even as his more illustrious teammates hog the limelight. But after warming the bench for seven matches, he’s back in the mix. He’s back under the spotlight, and this time he doesn’t want to let go off it.

“I come from a small city (Jamshedpur), from where no one expects you to play cricket at the highest level. We used to look up to MS Dhoni and Shahbaz Nadeem who had played at the big stage. The IPL also helped me fulfil my family’s dream of reclaiming our ancestral property,” says Tiwary, reminiscing about his flight of fancy, which turned into a reality.

Reversal of fortunes

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The first reversal in Tiwary’s fortunes came via a shoulder injury, just around the time he seemed to be making a mark for RCB. The year was 2013, and he spent the next couple of years in near-obscurity.

“I wasn’t really mentally down in that period. I was training and keeping myself fit. Otherwise, I was enjoying at home, watching movies and most importantly eating my mother’s home-cooked food, which I miss now,” explains Tiwary.

For many, he was the Dhoni clone, and not in terms of his looks. He was a burly bludgeoner of the cricket ball, who had the tact even if not the technique to succeed at the highest level. Or so it seemed. Tiwary though is insistent that it was never his batting form that ensured his disappearance from the radar.

“I had scored heavily for Mumbai Indians, which had helped me get an India call-up. In the two ODIs that I played, I remained unbeaten. For RCB, I have an unbeaten half century in my last IPL game. The 2015 Ranji season, I scored three hundreds and followed that up with a century in Duleep Trophy and a ton in limited format. So I don’t think my form was ever an issue. I believe that cricket does not run on a parallel plane,” he says.

But numbers don’t lie. For three consecutive IPL seasons, he averaged below 30. He wasn’t clearing the ropes with the same ease as he used to earlier. Tiwary no longer possessed the fear factor that he did in his early days. As he waited to get another shot in the IPL, the Jamshedpur-lad ensured that he was scoring enough runs to keep his name in the mix. He finished with 550 runs in the Ranji Trophy. And he credits a little tip that he’d received from Sachin Tendulkar back during his Mumbai Indians days as the trigger behind his turnaround.

Working on horizontal shots

“He would constantly advice me to strengthen my horizontal strokes as I usually preferred playing in the V. So during my lay-off, whenever I picked up my bat, I shadow practiced what Sachin had told me to do. And it worked wonders,” says Tiwary.

These days he’s making the most of the time he spends with Gary Kirsten, the Delhi coach, in the nets.

“Gary Sir is a plus for me and he is a great coach. So despite the fact I did not play the first seven games, I was training and practicing with the best coaches in the world,” Tiwary says.

Tiwary showed glimpses of his old self during his breezy unbeaten 28 off 14 balls , albeit in a losing cause against Rajasthan on Sunday. Now, he hopes that the time is nigh for a second shot at glory.

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