26-year-old Tiwary, who has always been on the sidelines for a Test spot, gave the Indian selectors a right dilemma in a match that was billed as a slugfest between captain Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh for the coveted no 6 spot. The Bengal lad shared a 110-run seventh-wicket partnership with all-rounder Irfan Pathan (46) in the third session to wrest back the advantage from the visitors.
Earlier, England were asked to bowl by Raina on what seemed like a sporting wicket ahead of the day's play.The tourists, who started with three quicks (James Anderson, Steve Finn and Tim Bresnan) were left in a spot soon in the first session after Steve Finn hobbled off the field after bowling just four overs. However, the Englishmen made the most of their bowling arsenal and picked up wickets at regular intervals, two per session, even as the track lost its nip, to restrict India A to 224 for six at Tea. This, after Abhinav Mukund (73) and Yuvraj Singh (59) shared a 56-run third-wicket partnership following the early dismissals of Murali Vijay (7) and Ajinkya Rahane (4).
Raina and keeper Wriddhiman Saha did not trouble the selectors much after being dismissed for 20 each to leave India A reeling at 190 for six in 47 overs. England would have expected a few overs of batting at this point on Day One, but Tiwary and Pathan had other plans.
The duo paced their innings well, clearing the fence 19 times in their 110-run stand and wrested control from the Englishmen. Tiwary was fluid with his strokeplay and seemed in no hurry to get going. The Bengal lad caressed the balls to the boundary, rather than heaving them and scored with a modest strike rate of around 60. Pathan (46, 83b, 5x4, 2x6), always the slugger, was also uncharacteristically patient with his innings and only punished the looseners. The left-hander was eventually to be trapped in front by Swann in the 75th over. The dismissal, however, wasn't to deter Tiwary as he carried on fighting and fending the English quicks into the nineties.
India A had been let down by batsmen who couldn't convert their starts into big scores and here was a man on the brink of three figures who knew that, in all probability, he still might not get that elusive Test cap. However, Tiwary's Terrific Tuesday was not to get the icing it deserved as Tim Bresnan (20-6-59-3) uprooted the former's middle stumps with four overs left in the day's play.
Tiwary might be the hero on paper, but the star of the day, at least for the 500-odd spectators in the North stand, was comeback-king Kevin Pietersen. The swashbuckling batsman, who made a return to the England squad following an autumn of controversy, evoked loud cheers from the crowd as he placed himself at mid-on and deep midwicket during the third session. Pietersen rewarded his fans, both Indian and English, with a few quick waves and even snuck in an over that went for seven runs.
At the end, both teams would be happy with their efforts. India A will hope to get as close to 400 as possible with Vinay Kumar (25*) and Parvinder Awana (11*) hoping to extend their 22-run last-wicket partnership. England, on the other hand, will look to complete their bowling formalities as soon as possible Wednesday morning and exploit Brabourne's small boundaries on a now flat batting track.
Brief scores: India A 369-9 in 90 overs (Manoj Tiwary 93, Abhinav Mukund 73; Tim Bresnan 3-59, Graeme Swann 3-90) vs England.