7 matches. 796 runs. Average: 99.50.
No, we are referring to the runs made by Virat Kohli this season Instead, we are going back in time. To 2007, and reflecting on the numbers of a cricketer, touted by many as the next big thing in Bengal and dare I say, in Indian cricket.
Manoj Tiwary may not have found a place in the Indian squad for the 2007 World Cup, but post that debacle, he was picked in India’s short tour to Bangladesh.
Getting picked for your country for the first time is always a special feeling. It is a reward for some consistent cricket played over a period of time that has catapulted you from the domestic circuit, but only the special few do get the chance.
But perhaps Tiwary’s time was not in the gloom of Bangladesh where the team had come together. Two days before what could have been his India debut, the Bengal man hurt his shoulder and was ruled out of the series and was on the flight back home. The start, which promised so much didn’t come then and sadly, never came after that.
In the 10 years that have passed between then and now, Tiwary has featured in a mere 12 ODIs and 3 T20Is, stats that do little or no justice to his talent.
IPL 2017- the season of turnaround
The Indian Premier League, over the years, has revived many a flagging career. Shane Watson is the first name that comes to mind, who will forever be indebted to the League as it was in the inaugural edition in 2008, that gave him the platform to succeed.
Prior to the start of the 2017 edition, Tiwary was not a part of even one prediction for cricketers who could revive their career with the IPL and while so far, he may not have played an innings that has stood out among the lot, he has been an underrated star for the Rising Pune Supergiant.
In his first game, where he got the chance, he stitched together 62 vital runs with Ben Stokes to help his side reach a competitive score. In the following game, he made 31 albeit in a losing cause against the Gujarat Lions.
But his most significant efforts in the competition so far have come in the matches against the Royal Challengers Bangalore and the Sunrisers Hyderabad. In the former, he made 27 crucial runs to help his side reach 160 and then in the second game, he provided MS Dhoni the support he needed to reach the target.
Usually on the domestic circuit, Tiwary bats in the top 5 for Bengal, but barring one game here, the right-hander has come late in the batting order, part of the reason being that team consists of the likes of Steve Smith, Stokes, Dhoni etc.
However, he has adapted to the role very well, having scored his runs at a strike-rate in excess of 150 in 4 of the five matches that he has batted in, with a maximum touching almost 250.
In each of those batting performances, Tiwary has either come when Pune have required some quick runs to gather some momentum or when the top order have required some sort of support.
It isn’t a role that he has employed in his career so far but it is encouraging to see him adjust to it and contribute to the side. The IPL does not often provide players to expand their horizon and become more rounded cricketers, but surely in Tiwary’s case, that chance has come his way and so far he has made the most of it.
Realistically, he is still some distance away from returning back to the Indian setup but if he can continue to provide the Supergiant with some useful lower-order scores, then they would also be able to send Dhoni higher up the order with more confidence.
The team have sent Dhoni a bit up the order in the recent games and it paid off in the last game when he took the side home and he will hope that when he comes in at 4 or 5, Tiwary can come down and do what the legendary captain has done for many years - aid the top order in helping the side either post a big total and track down a target.
The Supergiant have gathered some momentum courtesy some two wins in their previous two matches and Tiwary will hope to continue his good run of form in the next few matches as well.