Shikhar Dhawan (L) & Manoj Tiwary © Getty Images

 

By Nishad Pai Vaidya

 

Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh’s withdrawal from India’s One-Day International squad for the West Indies has given youngsters Shikhar Dhawan and Manoj Tiwary a chance to redeem their respective careers. Both players have played one ODI and in the absence of several big guns, this is their big opportunity to cement their places in the national squad.

 

Tiwary has been a consistent performer at the domestic level for a long time now. In the 2006-07 season, runs came like a torrent from his bat. He was included in the ODI squad for the tour to Bangladesh and an international debut was on the cards. However, just before the first ODI he hurt his shoulder and had to fly out of Bangladesh for a surgery. He bided his time in the sidelines while recuperating from the injury.

 

When India toured Australia in early 2008, he was included for the Commonwealth Bank Tri-series. He was handed the India cap in the first match against Australia at Brisbane. Tiwary walked in to bat at the fall of the third wicket with 91 on the board. Rohit Sharma was doing well at the other end and Tiwary needed to give him company to guide the Indian innings to a good total. However, Brett Lee was too hot to handle. The Aussie pacer broke through Tiwary’s defence with a fantastic yorker. Tiwary was gone for two in his only international outing todate.

 

Like Tiwary, Shikhar Dhawan wasn’t able to make an impact on his debut. Dhawan made his ODI debut against Australia at Visakhapatnam in October 2010. He was bowled by Clint McKay to the second ball of India’s innings. A rain-affected series meant that it was Dhawan’s only chance to impress selectors.

 

Earlier, Dhawan made a name for himself at the under-19 level and domestic cricket. He was the man of the tournament in the ICC U-19 World Cup 2004, Bangladesh. Many of his teammates like Suresh Raina, Rudra Pratap Singh, Vikram Raj Vir (VRV) Singh and Robin Uthappa played for India while he showed he was prolific at the domestic level. The call came in 2010, but the tour to the West Indies is his best chance to cement himself as a back-up opener in ODIs.

 

Success in domestic cricket can get an international cap, but it’s a different ball game at the highest level. Both Dhawan and Tiwary have found that out in their only ODIs and I am of the opinion that the unpleasant first experience may be a blessing in disguise for them. It will only make them tougher and they will be in better shape when they will don the India jersey again in the West Indies.

 

Tiwary has claimed that he has become more mature and his showing in the A-tours and domestic tournaments indicates that he has worked harder. The biggest sign of that he has been made captain of the Bengal Ranji team. Captaincy would have trained his mind to think tactically which would hold him in good stead when he will turn up for India in the Caribbean. In his early days in the Bengal dressing room he was called “Chota Dada.” Like the original “Dada” Sourav Ganguly, Tiwary is back in contention years after making his debut. Tiwary has the best example in front of him if he wants to make himself a permanent fixture in the Indian squad.

 

Dhawan has good experience at the A level and the Indian Premier League. Thus, he would be accustomed to playing world class bowling. He would be clear that he does not want to repeat the mistakes he committed on his ODI debut and will look to spend much more time in the middle. The good aspect of his game is that he can shift gears anytime. He can be cautious when the ball is new and can later speed up proceedings by attacking. When he walks out again in India colours, he has to be himself and play his natural game.

 

At 25, it is the ideal time for both Tiwary and Dhawan to come back into the Indian team. It is time they translate the years of hard work and promise into results at the domestic level by replicating it at the international stage. They should shed the tag of “promising” and finally fulfill the expectations bestowed on them by the cricketing public.

 

(Nishad Pai Vaidya, a 20-year-old law student, is a club and college-level cricketer. His teachers always complain, “He knows the stats and facts of cricket more than the subjects we teach him.”)