If Cricket is a religion for Indians than it is life for Bengalis and Sourav Ganguly is their god who is fondly called as DADA (it means grandfather top person of the house). DADA is the most lovable son of Bengal known for his aggression and to the point talks. Of all the cricket players that Bengal has produced, there is another player from Bengal who resembles DADA very much in terms of aggression and attitude. This player is fondly called as Chotta DADA (Chotta means younger) and his name is Manoj Tiwari. Although he has not yet made his mark in the International circuit but in terms of class, talent and attitude he is not less than any top class cricketer. His style of batting is been compared to Kevin Pietersen another top level cricketer from England, he bowls part time leg spin and a top notch fielder.

“Personally to myself, I am not sure why he bowls part time because whenever I have seen him bowling I felt like some top class leg spinner is bowling”.

Now the biggest mystery is with all the qualities of top-class players why he is still struggling to make his mark in international cricket especially when he came into reckoning way back in 2007 when he was just 24 years old. Whenever I think about this and most probably whenever Manoj might be retrospecting this question he might not be getting any satisfying answer to this query.

The Indian cricket team toured Bangladesh for two Test matches and three One-Day Internationals in May 2007. Manoj Tiwari because of his solid performance in domestic circuit in the last couple of years made a place for himself in ODI team. He was all set to debut against Bangladesh but sustained an injury during the morning training session because of which he was not able to participate in rest of the series. This was the first unfortunate incident which made Chotta DADA suffer his international debut when he was at top of his form.

After recovering from injury Manoj Tiwari finally got his debut match against Australians in 2008 Commonwealth Bank Tri Series in which he was able to manage only two runs in his only innings. He had to wait another three years to get his another break in 2011 against West Indies. He was drafted into the playing 11 in fifth ODI in Chennai where India was in big trouble after losing 2 wickets in very first over of the match. He played gutsy innings and most important innings of his life scoring 104 runs from that situation. During his innings, he was in a lot of pain due to cramps and had to retire after scoring his century. As per him it was made or break innings for him and he performed way beyond expectations but still, he warmed the bench for next 14 matches as a reserve. He made another comeback against Srilanka as an allrounder wherein he picked up 4 wickets with his leg spinners and made some important contribution from the bat.

Somehow Tiwari kept performing in whatever little chances he got and he established himself as a most important reserve player for India. He was part of Commonwealth Bank Tri-Series against Australia and Srilanka and part of Asia cup in 2012 but the story remained same, he kept warming benches. He was the part of World T20 Squad for India but did not feature in any of the matches. Starting December 2012 injuries kept haunting Manoj Tiwari. He spent more time out of field than on field due to various injuries since December 2012. In December, he sustained a back injury during Ranji Trophy and was advised a 6-week rest. This kept him out of selection for the limited-overs series against England and Pakistan in December and January.

He also injured his shoulder during the Vijay Hazare Trophy semi-final against Delhi in March and bruised his right hand while playing for Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League in April 2013. Next, he twisted his left knee during a football drill for the Kalighat cricket club in Kolkata. All through his career, he has been stuck with most untimely injuries. One just cannot believe how unlucky this man was especially after having all ingredients of top notch cricketer.

Manoj is now of 31 years and certainly, his golden period is almost past now. He had the quality of being a legendary cricketer if he would have little fortunate enough. But Chotta DADA is no ordinary man and differentiator for him is his “Never Say Never” attitude. For him, cricket is above all and he just loves and enjoys playing it. He is a player who leads by example and had a great 2016-2017 domestic season. He led East Zone successfully in winning Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy and in recently concluded Vijay Hazare Trophy he led Bengal team all the way to finals. He really had a good domestic season and now with last minute contract in IPL for Pune Supergiants team who knows this man can again stage a successful comeback. Whole Bengal and his fans hopes are very high for him, he has still got enough cricket left in him and if given proper opportunities in IPL he will definitely make it count this time.

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