Manoj Tiwary has handled his status as Indian cricket's latest 'almost man' with dignity, and after scoring a wonderful century against the Australians for India A on Sunday (February 17) at the Guru Nanak College ground in Chennai, he reiterated that he was fine as long as the runs kept coming.
"I'm very happy with my contribution. Most importantly, it's come against a touring side. Obviously compared to the quality of bowling we face in domestic cricket, it's much better and if you score runs against them, it gives you great satisfaction. After all the hard work we do, it feels good when the results come," said Tiwary. "I was very conscious of making big runs, to convince myself that I could score runs against a quality attack."
Having scored 338 runs on the first day, there was speculation as to whether India A would declare after Tiwary, unbeaten on 77 overnight, got to his century on the second day. "After playing a couple of overs in the morning, the plan was to bat till the tea session," clarified Tiwary, who scored 129. "I could have easily carried on batting but I played a loose shot and lost out on 20-25 runs there. The idea was to score quickly, but in trying to hit a good ball, I got out.
"It was a comfortable wicket to bat on, because it's on the slower side and the ball was not going off the wicket for the spinners. Only a little bit of turn was there. So you have to keep bowling at the right areas to test the patience of the batsmen. Eventually, the batsman will have to make mistakes here."
Speaking about the perception that he was best suited to limited-overs cricket, Tiwary said, "My dream has always been to play Test cricket. It's up to the selectors to decide if they want me, to show some faith in me as far as Test selection is concerned. My job is to score runs and I will keep doing that till I play first-class cricket.
"The competition is so high that you can't afford to miss a few innings, because then you go back a few months in the selection. At times it is difficult, but having said that, these are the challenges I love to face. When people talk about me and say I don't have the technique to play Test cricket, I listen to them but I love to go out and prove them wrong and, more importantly, I like proving that to myself."
Tiwary took part in the visiting England team's warm-up game against India A in October last year, scoring 93, but was injured soon after that and ended up missing the One-Day International series against Pakistan and England. "It does get frustrating. The timing of the injury wasn't right for me, because I knew that in the coming ODIs I would have played.
Knowing that, and getting injured, makes you feel bad. But I have moved on. There's no point thinking about injuries. It's okay," said Tiwary philosophically.
For the moment, while a place in the Indian limited-overs squad appears sealed, there doesn't seem to be any room for Tiwary in the Test squad. "I love challenges. Wherever the team management wants you to bat, if your country wants you to bat at No. 1 or No. 2, I will go despite being a middle-order batsman. You have to tackle the new ball. It will be difficult but not impossible," said Tiwary, responding to a question on whether he was happy to bat as an opening batsman.
"I can't do much about what people think about me. I can only go out and score runs. I would go for the runs even if I look odd or ugly in facing fast bowlers. I know my game. That's why I have scored more than 5000 runs in seven years of first-class cricket," pointed out Tiwary. "I am a firm believer in destiny. I do my honest hard work and leave the rest to destiny."