Time for ‘six-hitter’ Shivam Dube to start making it count at T20 World Cup

By admin Jun13,2024

Walking in at 44/3 in a tricky run chase against United States was bound to exert pressure on the tall frame of Shivam Dube. But that may not have been the only source of anxiety playing on Dube’s mind. Beyond the match situation at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Long Island, New York, on Wednesday, Dube was likely to have felt the need to prove that he belongs in India’s blue.

India’s Shivam Dube plays a shot during the Group A match against USA(BCCI-X)

For the 30-year-old to be in that situation so early in this T20 World Cup may seem a bit perplexing, but the scrutiny on any Indian cricketer, especially one who is largely unproven at the highest level, is such that even a couple of subpar performances can result in harsh criticism.

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The left-hand batter has technically had only one failure in this T20 World Cup — he was out for three off nine balls against Pakistan last Sunday. But in the brief time that he spent at the crease against Pakistan’s bowlers, he looked utterly unconvincing.

The warm-up game against Bangladesh didn’t have official status, but Dube couldn’t get going there too when everyone else around him did. He meandered to 14 off 16 balls while hitting just the lone six before getting caught at long-on.

These two games seemed to be enough — he was unbeaten on 0 in India’s victory over Ireland — for social media to pass unflattering remarks on Dube before the game against US. The grouse against the batting all-rounder from Mumbai seems to have been compounded by the omission of Rinku Singh from the 15-member squad. The dynamics of squad selection were such that there was only place for one of Dube or Rinku in India’s contingent. Dube’s ability to contribute a few overs as a medium-pacer and his splendid form for Chennai Super Kings (CSK) at the time of selection meant he ended up getting the nod.

There are a few factors behind Dube’s current predicament. For starters, the two-paced drop-in pitches at Long Island haven’t helped Dube or any other batter for that matter. The bounce has been variable, and the pitches have been on the slower side, deterring someone like Dube from tapping into his natural strength of hitting through the line. It’s also worth considering that he may have just fallen out of form in recent weeks. Since May, his scores read 0, 0, 21, 18, 7, 14, 0*, 3 and 31*.

In these circumstances, his unbeaten 31 off 35 balls against the US, effective though not entertaining, was much needed for Dube. He didn’t look entirely convincing in this knock too, but the confidence of seeing off the run chase should hold him in good stead when the Super Eight phase commences on June 19.

“I was struggling with my form and focusing on my process,” Dube said during an interaction with reporters at the mixed zone. “All the support staff and coaches backed me and told me, ‘It’s difficult, but you have the ability to hit sixes, so apply it.’ I’ve never doubted myself for what I’ve done in the past. I just think that these conditions do not demand what I’ve done at CSK. These conditions require a different approach. It’s not easy to come here and start hitting from ball one, you have to take your time.”

Part of the reason for Dube’s pedestrian run in this tournament is his own reputation of being a belligerent six-hitter against spin. With neither strengths nor weaknesses of any player no longer staying elusive, teams are understandably reluctant to bowl their spinners to Dube. On Wednesday, for instance, US left-arm spinner Harmeet Singh remained unused.

If Dube is to become a more complete batter at the international level, he will also have to become more adept at rotating the strike. He is also yet to fully convince while playing the short ball. Against the Americans, 15 of his 35 balls were dots, adding to the pressure in what should have otherwise been a straightforward chase. His tendency to go at the ball with hard hands means that the dexterity to manoeuvre the ball into gaps isn’t quite there. When he’s up against top opponents, he won’t always be able to catch up with fours and sixes like he does for CSK in IPL.

To pigeonhole Dube solely as an IPL success won’t be correct though. His overall T20I record for India is quite good — he has 310 runs in 24 matches at an average of 38.75 and a strike rate of 131.35.

With the New York leg of fixtures over, the key for Dube now is to quickly put this middling run behind him and take advantage of hopefully better batting surfaces in their coming games. Starting with the inconsequential match against Canada in Lauderhill on Saturday.

By admin

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