Manoj Tiwary. (File Pic – TOI Photo)KOLKATA: Leading the East Zone side is nothing new for Manoj Tiwary who has been-there-and-done-that. But this time he is back at the helm after not being in charge of Bengal or any regional side for quite some time.
“It feels good to be back as the skipper,” he told TOI on Wednesday, a day before East Zone face North Zone at Puducherry in a quarterfinal match of Duleep Trophy, which will kick-start the domestic season.
“I always enjoy challenges and am looking forward to this, to give my best. It’s true I have not led any side in the recent past, but I have always worked closely with Bengal skipper Abhimanyu Easwaran last season. I think my experience in the role will come handy,” he stated.
The former India player has been busy with his departmental and party work since taking charge as a Minister of State after winning an Assembly seat from Shibpur in 2021.
But cricket remained his first love as Tiwary continued to pile up runs for Bengal in the last truncated domestic season. “Yes I am confident about my own form and plan to play more games this season,” he said.
The minister said he will keep in touch with his party workers as well as sports department staff and continue to oversee and carry on all necessary work after each day’s play.
Tiwary is happy with the return of Duleep Trophy in the old regional format from the three-team competition that was being followed since the 2016-17 season. “It’s a welcome change for me. Having played more cricket in this region, I am at home with these players and we all gel well,” he said.
The middle-order batter is quite excited with his group of boys. “I am really looking forward to playing alongside some very exciting talents, many of whom I feel can make it big. We have a very balanced mix of youth and experience. We had good practice sessions over the past two days and are all charged up, aiming for nothing less than the trophy,” he said.
However, he sounded cautious about their quarterfinal opponents. “North are always a dangerous side who play aggressive cricket. We have to be very disciplined over the course of the next four days,” he stated.