Manoj Tiwary’s career has seen one too many injury-related bottlenecks. Recently, he hurt his shoulder during the semifinal of the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
However, the 27-year-old Bengal batsman has now regained fitness and is excited about being part of KKR's title defence in the IPL.
Fresh from scoring a brace of goals in a celebrity football match for charity, Tiwary spoke to The Hindu on Saturday about his frustration with injuries, revisiting his original batting style, Gautam Gambhir’s captaincy, and team owner Shah Rukh Khan’s supportive influence.
How frustrating is it to deal with one injury after another?
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t frustrated. The timing of injuries hasn’t been good but you can’t help it. I make sure I forget the disappointments and move forward.
Has your preparation for the IPL been affected by the injury?
I didn’t get much time to practice as I was in the National Cricket Academy for rehabilitation. But I have practised quite a bit in the last three-four days and am feeling good about my batting. I am looking forward to playing on the Eden Gardens wicket in the practice games over the next two days.
What’s your role in the team this time around? Which position are you likely to bat at?
Last year, I didn’t have a fixed position with the batting order changing according to the situation. You aren’t sure of a permanent batting order because the format is so short. Rather than pre-determining my batting position, I would love to contribute in a meaningful way. In the IPL final last year, I batted at seven, which’s hardly my number.
Have you effected changes to your batting style?
When I first came onto the scene, I used to play a lot of attacking shots. But during the next three or four years, when many cricketers from Bengal joined the ICL, I had to play the role of a senior batsman. I was also focused on getting into the Indian team and, in the pursuit of scoring big runs, curtailed my aggressive game.
I don’t think that was right because I was curbing my natural instincts. But I can guarantee that you will see a more aggressive Manoj in this IPL.
What has made KKR tick as a unit?
We have always gelled well together. Shah Rukh has been very supportive regardless of whether we win or lose. But I could see he desperately needed a championship trophy. In the past, there were a lot of controversies surrounding the team but he handled things really well. KKR has one of the best team management groups.
What do you make of Gautam Gambhir’s captaincy?
I think he’s leading the team really well. He gets what he wants from his players. On the field, he’s really aggressive but off the field, he’s a very nice bloke who gets along well with everyone. (Coach) Trevor Bayliss joined KKR only last year but the players have responded warmly to him.
Is there anything KKR would do differently this time around?
If we take care of the little things, the percentage of winning the title increases. I don’t think there will be a major change in the thought process as what we did last year was near-perfect.
For me, personally, it would be nice to catch up with the new guys (Sachithra Senanayake and Ryan McLaren) and make them feel comfortable in our set-up.