Photo credit: Manoj Tiwary/ Instagram

Cricket is more than just a game in India. The cliché of cricket being a religion holds true to a large extent and the heroes from the game inspire entire generations. Such was also the case with Bengal’s record-setting middle-order batsman Manoj Tiwary.

Fans of Indian cricket can never forget the time Shane Warne admitted to having nightmares about Sachin Tendulkar hitting him out of the park against the spin. These same nightmares were the stuff of dreams for Manoj, who couldn’t take his eyes off the screen when the Master came in to bat.

“Watching Sachin Tendulkar’s match-winning innings in Sharjah against Australia, where he smashed a century, is something I will always remember,” Manoj reminisces. “In the finals, he scored a century yet again and India became champions. That was my earliest memory of watching him on TV. After that innings, I started taking my cricket pretty seriously too, to be honest.”

After seeing the Little Master in action, Manoj knew he had found his calling and kept honing his cricket skills, hoping to one day be an inspiration to other youngsters who loved the game. However, there was a long way to go from dream to reality for young Manoj.

“After I started playing cricket seriously, I eventually got selected for the U-16 West Bengal team, and soon made my debut for them,” narrated Manoj. “We used to get ₹1200 for a game, which was a big amount for me at that point of time. Keeping that in mind, I calculated in my mind the amount I would earn and be able to help my family financially. That’s how I got into it, and from there on I never looked back.”

It has been a long journey for the tiger from Bengal, but he made the most of every opportunity he got since then. He scored 796 runs in the 2006-07 Ranji Trophy at an average of 99.50 which eventually paved the way for his entry into the Indian Cricket Team. The Chhota Dada of Bengal Cricket also has an enviable domestic cricket record to his name and has evolved his style over the years to go from an all-out aggressor to a more complete batsman. This Bengal tiger will now be a part of the pride of Punjab and he will undoubtedly announce his arrival with a roar.