Manoj Tiwary would have learnt early that his cricketing career would be a rollercoaster ride.
He was just 21 when he received his maiden call-up to the Indian side, for an ODI series in Bangladesh in 2007. He was rewarded for a terrific Ranji Trophy season, where he scored 796 runs at an average of 99.5 for Bengal. However, with an India debut well in sight, Tiwary injured his shoulder while fielding during training and was sidelined from the tour.
The debut eventually came in February 2008 in Brisbane against Australia, where he scored just 2 before being bowled by a brute from Brett Lee. Tiwary had to wait more than three years for his next international game.
The opportunity came in the form of an opening role in West Indies, where he made only 2. He was since moved to the middle order, and the performances began to improve marginally. He made 22, 11 and 24 in his next three ODIs before producing his best international knock - a Man of the Match winning 104* against West Indies in Chennai. He had walked in at 1 for 2 and then scored his maiden ton, giving India enough runs to set up a win.
That should have been a high point but what followed was more time away from the Indian team. He did not play another ODI for the next seven months, missing 14 games in all before being recalled. A few intermittent opportunities followed, and Tiwary played the last of his 12 ODIs in 2015. He played three T20Is too, batting only once for 15 runs.
Tiwary has never shied away from expressing his disappointment at the way things turned out. Recently to ESPNcricinfo, he opened up on the lack of opportunities, citing communication failure as the toughest part.
"I could not get the reason why I was not getting picked. It was not communicated. So if that communication is not there, you feel 'What's wrong with my game?' At that point, I had no one who guided me as such to be more calm and not to overthink about these things, so that whenever you get an opportunity you will obviously have to make an impact on those games," he said.
The disappointments didn't stop Tiwary from raking up runs in domestic cricket. He has made 8752 runs at an average around 50 from 118 first-class matches, apart from 5466 List A runs from 163 games at 42.37.
Tiwary has often maintained that it's not just the volume of runs, but also the quality that matters. Tiwary has been Bengal's crisis man, a steady middle order batsman, for long. His most recent knock was his maiden triple-century, a 303* in the Ranji game against Hyderabad after Bengal were 60 for 3.
Until recently, Tiwary was a regular in IPL too. He had an excellent season in 2017, where he scored 324 runs at a strike-rate close to 140 for Rising Pune Supergiant, playing a key role in the team reaching the final. However, he played only five matches for Kings XI Punjab in the season that followed. The decline only got worse with him not finding buyers for IPL 2019 and IPL 2020.
Tiwary even took to twitter to voice his frustration.
Wondering wat went wrong on my part after getting Man of a match award wen I scored a hundred 4 my country and got dropped for the next 14 games on a trot ?? Looking at d awards which I received during 2017 IPL season, wondering wat went wrong ??? pic.twitter.com/GNInUe0K3l — MANOJ TIWARY (@tiwarymanoj) December 18, 2018
"It was difficult to digest the fact (IPL snub). But that's the reality. Obviously, it feels bad when you see so many youngsters playing and I sit back at home watching. Those shots I could have hit. It's the harsh reality for me," he said after the triple-ton on Monday. "The franchise management looked for something different."
Tiwary is 34 now, and chances of a return to the Indian side are slim. He understands that, and yet hasn't given up on his dreams. He even takes inspiration from the likes of Wasim Jaffer and plans to play for '10 more years'.
"At the moment India are winning. It's difficult with the way India are shaping right now. But anything is possible in this world," he said. "Confidence is my strength. I always have to keep hope. Age is just a number for me."
If his bat continues to do the talking, like it did during the triple-ton, who knows?