SAKSHAM MISHRA | 11 DECEMBER, 2019
Riding on Luck, Shivam Dube Begins to Find his Feet
Happily, the 26 year old is well aware of his shortcomings
Shivam Dube would probably be the first person to accept that Lady Luck has been smiling on him of late. Not undermining his ability any bit, Dube has been at the right place at the right time to break through into the Indian team.
Owing to a few factors discussed below, he has been fast tracked in India colours on the back of just a handful of domestic games. It is not often that a young player makes it through to Team India without going through the grind of first-class cricket. Ask Mayank Agarwal.
The international call-up
In December 2018, Dube hit five successive sixes in a Ranji Trophy match, just a day before the IPL auctions, to attract the attention of the franchises. The next day he was picked by Royal Challengers Bangalore for a whopping Rs 5 crore.
Unfortunately, Dube had a forgettable IPL season. The focus of the country now shifted towards the ODI World Cup, where Hardik Pandya came of age. Vijay Shankar was No. 2 in the medium-pace bowling all-rounder pecking order.
Post the World Cup, Pandya got injured and Shankar fell out of favour. At the same time, Dube started producing consistent performances. He starred when South Africa A toured India, ending as the leading run-scorer for the hosts with 155 runs from four innings at a strike rate of almost 145.
In India colours
Dube then pummeled Mumbai to the quarter-final of the Vijay Hazare Trophy with 177 runs from five innings at 88.50, striking at 146.28. Soon the Indian T20I squad for the Bangladesh series was announced and sure enough, the 26-year-old found himself in the playing XI straight away.
Match-winning bowling figures of 4-30-3 meant that Dube found a place in both the ODI and T20I squads for the West Indies series.
Dube was a bit fortunate that the Indian team management decided to promote him at one drop in Trivandrum ahead of Virat Kohli. The lion's share of his runs came off Kieron Pollard, who decided to risk bowling two overs against the youngster.
But, ultimately it will go down as his maiden T20I half-century irrespective of the position he batted or the bowler he faced.
A work in progress
Dube's bowling is definitely his weaker suit. The all-rounder's stock ball is short of length on off stump, on and around the 130 kmph mark. While this in-between length may have served him well in the domestic circuit, against the calibre of players like Pollard and Hetmyer, this delivery runs a huge risk of landing up in the stands more often than not.
Dube does have a good slower one and an accurate yorker but it is evident that he needs to hone it further to be confident enough of dishing it out on demand.
While his bowling remains a work in progress, it is his fielding which has the most room for improvement. Not in tune with the rigours of international cricket, Dube is - for the want of a better word - clumsy in the field. He has already dropped a couple of sitters in the five T20Is he has played and also conceded some overthrows.
Dube's running between the wickets is another thing he needs to work on extensively. The positive side, though, is that the Mumbai lad is well aware of it.
"Yes, [the switch from domestic to international cricket] has been very difficult and being an allrounder is a difficult job and it's more important for me to prepare my fitness level because as all-rounder you need to bat and bowl also. The fitness is really a difficult job and yes I've done something and I'm proving it," Dube agrees.
Can Dube make the most of his fortune?
Let's accept it, luck is a huge factor in the lives of each of us. However, once presented with the opportunity, it is the skill and the skill alone that helps sustain your standing.
Like his maiden T20I half-century, if Dube can keep putting in the performances, in course of time, no one will actually remember that he got into the side to plug the void created by Pandya's injury. Only a few would recall that he was once promoted at one drop under the aforementioned circumstances.
What matters at the end of the day is the bottom line. Figures are what people judge you by. Credit to some luck, Dube will begin to feel comfortable at the international stage after his knock in Trivandrum, but it is now up to the 26-year-old to capitalise on his luck.