Tiwary determined to be his own man

Jharkhandi keen to emerge from Dhonis giant shadow

Young Jharkhandi Saurabh Tiwary is determined to carve a niche for himself. DH photo

With shoulder-length hair and a penchant for big hits, the left-handed Tiwary drew immediate comparisons with the Indian skipper, who too once sported long locks, when he burst on to the scene as an India under-19 player and more famously with Mumbai Indians in the last edition of the Indian Premier League.

“It feels good when we are compared based on our cricketing talent,” says Tiwary, noting that he has been having his mane since 2000. “To begin with, our batting styles are quite different because I am left-handed and he bats right-handed. Be that as it may, not just Dhoni but if you are compared to any international cricketer, you feel proud about that. But the comparison has to be confined to cricket and not anything else,” he remarks with a chuckle.

The 21-year-old, bought by the Royal Challengers Bangalore for 16 times above his base price of $100,000 in the auction, admits Dhoni has changed the cricketing landscape in Jharkhand. “He has set up a splendid platform for us young cricketers,” he points out.
“Jharkhand is a tiny state and was almost obscure before Dhoni emerged on the scene. When Dhoni came into the picture, people started to know more about our place.
“Coming as we do from such a small cricketing place, all we could dream was play for India ‘A’ or in the Duleep Trophy. But when Dhoni became a prominent figure and eventually the captain, our confidence levels naturally went up.

“We began to dream bigger. We realise that our performances will count now and he has become our role model. Jharkhand became the all-India Ranji one-day champions this time, and all the boys are performing well now,” he explains.

Indeed, Jharkhand has a fair sprinkling of players in the IPL, besides Dhoni and Tiwary.  There is Ishank Jaggi (Deccan Chargers), Varun Aaron and Shahbaz Nadeem (both Delhi Daredevils).

“There is also fast bowler Rahul Shukla, who is with the Mumbai team but currently nursing a injury while another paceman, Yaju Krishanatry, was the second highest wicket-taker in the Ranji one-day competition.

The IPL may have given him more fame and of course money but the southpaw feels performances in the T20 league alone shouldn’t be the criterion for a player to be selected to the national side.

“I don’t think IPL performance alone should be the yardstick to be picked for India. If you perform well throughout the domestic season and fail to do the same in the IPL, that doesn’t mean you are a bad player.

“In any sport, there are ups and downs. I think I have done well in domestic cricket last season and I have been selected to play for India based on my overall performamces,” reasons Tiwary, who has played three one-day internationals.

Cut to the IPL. The Jamshedpur-born lad hasn’t quite set scene on fire yet. “I know it’s important to perform well individually but at the moment, the first preference is for the team to qualify. I have been assigned a role (batting at six), which is quite different from the one I performed last time. As a batsman, you should be ready to bat at any number and I want to do well, irrespective of the position I bat at,” he states while adding that he misses playing with Sachin Tendulkar rather than playing for Mumbai.

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