‘Saying farewell to your favourite thing isn’t easy’ – Saurabh Tiwary signs off

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A day before the start of the Jharkhand vs Haryana Ranji Trophy fixture at Jamshedpur’s Keenan Stadium, while the local Jharkhand boys were training, a young boy strolled out to the turf. When a securityman stopped him, he teared up and said he only wanted a selfie with Saurabh bhaiya. Saurabh Tiwary wasn’t around at the time, but the fans didn’t know that. After the boy, a few others attempted to get into the ground to try and meet him.
Tiwary’s popularity in the Jharkhand cricket circles has to be seen to be believed. Plus, of course, a few days earlier, it had become known that Tiwary would retire at the end of Jharkhand’s run in the ongoing season, which came on February 19, also at the Keenan, as Jharkhand beat Rajasthan to finish their Ranji Trophy campaign. When Tiwary went out to bat a second time in that game, the opposition players lined up to give him a guard of honour.

“Saying farewell to your favourite thing isn’t easy, my friend,” Tiwary, now 34, said afterwards. “When I left the dressing room and was entering the ground, it was very emotional. My whole journey, from the time I was a kid to now, flashed before my eyes. I started my career here [at Keenan Stadium] and am finishing here too. My favourite people, including my coach [Kajal Das] had come to be part of the occasion. Sometimes, it’s difficult to express the feeling.”

Once the farewell match got over, Tiwary walked over the pitch, tears in his eyes, bent down and kissed the turf. Das, who has also coached the Jharkhand team in the past, was in attendance, and recalled an old story that gives you a glimpse into Tiwary the person.

“He must have been 15 or 16, and a ball hit his head during training. He needed some stitches. He went to the hospital and came right back to me. I told him to pad up and go bat in the nets [and he did so] – I wanted to see if he was scared and wanted to test him,” Das said. “I have never had a student as dedicated as Saurabh. His keenness to be at the ground and his hunger for runs is unmatched.”

Tiwary wore the India cap – in three ODIs, in late 2010 – and had a lengthy run in the IPL, playing 93 matches across 11 seasons between 2008 and 2021, missing out only in 2014, 2018 and 2019. The only time Jharkhand won a domestic tournament, the 50-over Vijay Hazare Trophy in 2010-11, Tiwary was the captain. Add to that 8076 first-class runs, 4050 in List A cricket, 3454 in T20s… one dream, however, remained unfulfilled.

“Cricket has taught me two things. One is that you have to fight for everything, and the second is that you need to understand you won’t get everything in life. Some things will remain out of reach,” Tiwary said. “I had a dream that we will win the Ranji Trophy but I couldn’t achieve it. That takes us back to the thing about fighting for everything. I will now try to play my part in helping the team win the Ranji Trophy, but from the outside. And I will do whatever I can to make it happen.”



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