India vs Afghanistan: Mohali hero Shivam Dube auditions well for Hardik Pandya’s back-up role ahead of T20 World Cup

0
27


Shivam Dube was yearning for an opportunity after putting in all the hard yards during the off-season. He got to play a T20I series in Ireland in August, which marked his return to the senior national team after a gap of over 3 years. He was also part of India’s gold medal-winning campaign at the Asian Games in Hangzhou last year. Dube was picked for the home series against Australia after the World Cup, but he warmed the bench in all 5 matches.

After having been snubbed for the T20I series in South Africa in December, Dube found his way back into the squad for the T20I series against Afghanistan at home, the last international T20s for India before the World Cup in June. The rub of green went Dube’s way as several big names were either injured or unavailable for selection for the T20I series.

Fast-bowling all-rounder Hardik Pandya was not available due to an injury and India did not hesitate to back Shivam Dube in that role in the first T20I on a chilly evening in Mohali on Thursday, January 11. India left out in-form Avesh Khan and opted for a bowling attack which had 3 spinners, two frontline pacers and Dube as the hosts went in with 3 all-rounders in their XI for the series opener.

Axar Patel and Washington Sundar got opportunities to bowl in the powerplay and Shivam Dube also got to roll his arm over. The Mumbai man did more than just that as he troubled the Afghanistan batters by getting seam movement off the pitch in Mohali. He got the wicket of Afghanistan captain Ibrahim Zadran and nearly had another one.

Dube finished with figures of 1 for 9 in his quota of 2 overs. It was a memorable night for the Chennai Super Kings all-rounder as he followed it up with an unbeaten 60 off 40 balls in India’s successful chase of 159 in the first T20I.

Dube effortlessly slog-sweeping the spinners into the stands and using his gifted bat swing to deposit seamers behind the sight screen were on the expected lines, but the intensity that the 30-year-old showcased with the ball in hand was a refreshing sight.

“What stood out for me was Shivam Dube picking a wicket and bowling very economically. He conceded just 9 runs in 2 overs. And then for him to come out to bat at No. 4 and play a match-winning knockâ€æ it comes to him with ease,” Saba Karim told Jio Cinema on Thursday.

MAKING THE OPPORTUNITY COUNT

Dube was fresh off a successful Ranji Trophy outing for Mumbai against Bihar. At the Moin-ul-Haq Stadium in Patna, Dube picked 6 wickets, including a 4-wicket haul in the second innings for Mumbai, earlier in the month, before joining the T20I team in Mohali.

“I was waiting for a long time to get an opportunity to bowl in a match. I was working on my bowling a lot. I was feeling that I was bowling well, I was working on my fitness during the off-season, which has really helped me,” Dube told Sports 18 after India’s victory in Mohali.

“I was bowling in domestic cricket also. In T20s, it’s important to bowl in a match and I got that opportunity today. I felt my pace was also good. If I get more opportunities to bowl, I think I can do better,” he said.

A MORE MATURE BIG-HITTER

Dube’s big-hitting ability was never in question. However, consistency was an issue for the tall all-rounder, who made his T20I debut in 2019. Despite being in the mix, Dube was never in the frame for the T20 World Cups in 2021 and 2022.

Dube had played 43 T20 games until 2020 and scored just 528 runs, including a fifty. However, since the start of 2021, Dube has hit 1682 runs in 62 innings in T20 cricket, including 8 fifties.

With only 5 months to go, the all-rounder seems to be putting his hand up for a spot in the T20 World Cup squad.

Shivam Dube had a defining IPL season with CSK in 2023, scoring 418 runs for MS Dhoni’s side, hitting 35 sixes, 4 more than Glenn Maxwell, in the season.

Shivam Dube’s consistency in playing the spin-destroyer role was staggering, as most of his big hits landed in the crowd. The left-handed batter’s incredible form was one of the main reasons for CSK’s triumphant run in 2023.

ONE STEP AT A TIME

Apart from scoring 60 runs, Shivam Dube also finished with figures of 2-0-9-1. Courtesy: AP

The Indian team management would certainly be thrilled to have someone of Shivam Dube’s class as a backup option for Hardik, who has been injury-prone in the recent past. The all-rounder has been out of action since he suffered an ankle injury during a game against Bangladesh. Hardik has been working hard on his recovery and is expected to be back during the IPL 2024 season, in which he will lead the Mumbai Indians.

With Shardul Thakur not being able to take his opportunities well, the team management would love to see Shivam Dube consistently performing. Dube getting a game in the first T20I against Afghanistan is enough evidence that Rahul Dravid, Ajit Agarkar and Rohit Sharma are indeed looking in his direction as they chart the World Cup plan.

“The recent form of Shivam Dube augurs well for Indian cricket. They need a viable option (Backup) for Hardik Pandya. Such kinds of cricketers need to be encouraged. And I hope that with Rahul Dravid and Rohit Sharma at the helm, Dube gets a longer run this time around. He has the capability and the match-winning instinct which can prove beneficial for the Indian side,” Saba Karim said.

If Shivam Dube can convince MS Dhoni to give him a couple of overs and keep improving his secondary skill, he will continue to draw the attention of the selectors.

A big few months await Shivam Dube, who is hungrier than ever to let his performances do the talking.

“Playing the World Cup is definitely every cricketer’s dream. Like every player, I also want to contribute to my country in the World Cup. It always remains in the back of the mind. But there’s a lot of time for it. I will focus on one day at a time,” Dube said.

More mature as a batter, and hungrier as a bowler, Shivam Dube is putting his hand up at the right time.

Published By:

sabyasachi chowdhury

Published On:

Jan 12, 2024



Source link

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here