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Manoj vows to keep fighting

Calcutta: Not even 24 hours had passed after he landed in the city completing a strenuous tour of Australia when one found Manoj Tiwary working out at his home. “I don’t like taking breaks,” was the right-handed batsman’s explanation.

He had a decent outing in the quadrangular A-Team series Down Under and also scored a crucial fifty in the final against Australia A in a triumphant cause. Not just with the bat, he did well with the ball as well, notching up a five-wicket haul.

But that didn’t prove enough for him to find a place in the 17-member Indian squad for the forthcoming limited-overs series in England. However, Manoj isn’t one to lose sleep over that.

“Having played cricket for so many years, I understand that a player’s job is to perform… Selection is entirely up to the selectors. So I don’t think about such things. Giving my best is the only thing that concerns me,” Manoj told The Telegraph on Tuesday.

He is satisfied with his performance in Australia. “Yes, I missed a few opportunities to get a big score and on some occasions I was unfortunate… But overall, I’m happy with whatever I’ve achieved in the tournament. I am happy that I could contribute in the winning cause in the final as well,” he said.

But that doesn’t mean that Manoj is not looking for improvements. “As a player, I know I can always get better… After the tour of Australia, I’ve identified the areas where I need to improve and will be working on that,” he said.

With the 2015 ODI World Cup to be held in Australia and New Zealand, didn’t he see the quadrangular series as an opportunity to make a point? “To be honest, no… Look, the World Cup is still some time away… A lot of things can happen in between. I like living in the present, so my only focus while in Australia was on the quadrangular series… Didn’t think of future.”

That Manoj, who has played 9 ODIs for India, has a calm head on his shoulders is understandable as he still maintains that playing Test cricket is his ultimate dream. “Playing Test cricket is a dream for any cricketer, so it is for me. I have more than 5,000 runs and 18 hundreds in first-class cricket… So I consider myself ready for the longest format of the game.”

He may have missed the flight to England, but Manoj, who has made many a spirited comeback from career-halting injuries, is not giving up the fight. “I will take a couple of days rest, maybe, but I will be back to training soon. I don’t need holidays, I will get plenty of them when I retire,” the 28-year-old said wiping off the sweat from his forehead.