Bengal Sports Minister Manoj Tiwari Fulfills State’s Ranji Trophy Dream As Captain
“I’m still the minister of state for sports,” Bengal captain Manoj Tiwary smiled as he ran to meet his senior official in the ministry, Arup Biswas, during his visit to the Eden Gardens on the eve of the Ranji Trophy final against Saurashtra. Kolkata Wednesday. It has been a roller-coaster ride for the 37-year-old Tiwary, who knew nothing about his career when his knees “gave out” and the whole world woke up to the COVID-19 pandemic following Bengal’s defeat in the Ranji final. Got hit. Against Saurashtra in 2020.
With the pandemic disrupting the sporting calendar, Tiwari, who has been suffering from problems in both knees, found his career at a crossroads when he received an offer from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to join the Trinamool Congress ahead of the 2021 assembly elections.
He readily accepted the offer, won the Shibpur constituency in Howrah district, and replaced his senior colleague from Bengal, Lakshmi Ratan Shukla, as Minister of State for Sports.
Two years down the line, ‘Tiwary 2.0’ is back as captain, reuniting with Shukla, who is now Bengal’s head coach. The duo produced a winning spell to take Bengal to the brink of a third title, and their first since 1989–90.
Recalling the days of Kovid-19, Tiwari said in a statement, “I entered politics at a time when no one was sure when the Ranji Trophy was going to happen again.” Talking to PTI
It was in the build-up to the 2019–20 season that India prospect Abhimanyu Easwaran took over the captaincy from Tiwary.
Tiwary, who was part of Bengal’s three defeats in the Ranji final in 2006, 2007 and 2020, said, “As a player I always supported him. But somewhere inside I had the thirst to win the title for Bengal.”
As Abhimanyu was busy with national commitments, Tiwary was again appointed captain and started his second innings alongside Shukla.
“I requested my honorable chief minister Mamata Banerjee to let me play cricket and she agreed and my senior sports minister Arup Biswas also encouraged me not to give up cricket and go out there and play with my constituency work.” Thus begins a tough field for Tiwari, whose day begins with signing files and listening to grievances of people in his constituency before paddling out for Bengal.
“Obviously, managing both things is not easy. It’s just about mindset, will power and how you want to manage your routine. It’s all about time management, and you need to get plenty of sleep.” less time.”
“I have a lot of work to do after I go back home, get my body right and then go through the files.” But Bengal is doing well under Tiwari’s leadership, even as people in his constituency have realized the importance of leaving him stress-free.
“Even people in my constituency understand how important it is for the state to win the Ranji Trophy. It is not just for me but for the whole of Bengal as we have not won the Ranji Trophy for more than 32 years.” Tiwari also thanked his wife for supporting him.
“She has been very supportive, without her support and love this would not have been possible for me. She has been very helpful.”
‘Gene’ similar to coach Shukla
So, what has been the winning mantra for the Bengal coach-captain duo this time around? “The chemistry was always there between us. When I made my debut, he was a senior in the team, he always guided me. The key was to create a good atmosphere and team bonding.
“He was an intense cricketer who worked really hard and gave it his all. My genes are also similar to his. We both love to battle it out on the ground and are very expressive as well.
Tiwary said, “As a coach, he has given me complete support and freedom. It is not possible to do otherwise. I have seen many coaches who interfere from outside, which does not help. In his case, He is very helpful.”
The pair failed as teammates in 2006 and 2007 when Bengal lost to Uttar Pradesh and Mumbai respectively.
“In life there is always a chance to come back. we live or teach (We either win or learn). It is the last match of the season and we want to do well at the end.
Appreciating Tiwary’s leadership qualities, Shukla said, “He is the best person to lead the Bengal team, with so many runs at the domestic level.
“He is the driving force behind Bengal. He has played IPL in India, he is a very good leader. It is about having complete faith in the players of the team.” Asked how Tiwari manages to balance politics and sports, Shukla said, “He is very responsible and hardworking. It is not difficult for him.”
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