W Power 2024

IPL 2024: Once forgotten, Shivam Dube is now a frontrunner for India's World Cup squad

In the six matches of IPL 2024 so far, Dube has scored 242 runs at an average of 60 and a strike rate of 163.51, and has shown a tremendous skillset both against spinners and pacers

Published: Apr 15, 2024 06:27:10 PM IST
Updated: Apr 16, 2024 12:01:20 AM IST

IPL 2024: Once forgotten, Shivam Dube is now a frontrunner for India's World Cup squadChennai Super Kings' Shivam Dube plays a shot during the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 cricket match between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on April 14, 2024. Image: Indranil Mukherjee / AFP
 
Chennai Super Kings (CSK) were 60-2 in 7.5 overs against Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League (IPL) on April 14 at Wankhede Stadium. It was a below-par score considering the dew factor and easy batting conditions. Chennai needed a magical performance to turn it around and challenge a strong Mumbai batting line-up in the second innings.

All eyes were on Shivam Dube, Chennai’s go-to man in the last few seasons, and their skipper Ruturaj Gaikwad who was already batting in the middle. Dube is a strongly-built, tall man who has a natural bat swing and is capable of hitting huge sixes. His timing and ability to identify the right balls make him even more dangerous.

Mumbai Indians knew Dube was a key wicket and the earlier they dismissed him, the better were their chances of restricting Chennai Super Kings to a small total. They straightaway brought in Jasprit Bumrah– their best bowler– into the attack. But Dube isn’t just another brute hitter who would try to hit every ball out of the park. He knows his targets and respects good balls. Bumrah conceded just four runs, but both Dube and Gaikwad were happy enough to have not let him do any damage.

In the next over, the attack began. Hardik Pandya, who has been struggling with his bowling lately, was hit for three fours, and Chennai aggregated 15 from that over. Gaikwad also gained momentum, knowing Dube was there to do the damage from the other end and he wouldn’t need to worry much about strike rates. The duo formed a stand of 120 runs before Gaikwad departed for 69 off 40.

Dube continued to play his shots. He returned unbeaten on 66 off 38 balls to help Chennai post a formidable total of 206 runs on board. Their bowlers, especially Matheesha Pathirana (4-028-4), later ensured Mumbai fell short by 20 runs. It wasn’t Dube's first impactful knock this season but he has had some sort of impact in almost every game so far.

"When he (Dube) comes on to bat, they take the spinners off and put the pacemen on. He has become more and more effective at that. But they didn't bowl spin again in the rest of the game because he was at the wicket. It's about how you control the match and someone like him can control it because they can't ball spin anymore. They don't want to. They are scared to. His ability to be effective against the pace bowling has become a massive asset for him," Chennai’s bowling coach Eric Simmons said at the post-match press conference.

Born and brought up in Mumbai, Dube started liking cricket at the age of 10 when his domestic help would bowl to him around his house. He soon took to school cricket and did well for his school team at the under-14 level.

He suddenly stopped playing cricket because he was considered overweight. He could not do much about his fitness back then due to the financial condition at his home as his father had migrated from Uttar Pradesh to Mumbai for work.

Thanks to motivation from his father and his will to play cricket again, Dube finally returned back to the field at the age of 19. He worked both on his fitness and skills to get in proper shape. In a few years, he made it to Mumbai’s under-23 team. His heroics in club cricket and ability to hit sixes would often leave people awestruck. So, he was soon drafted into Mumbai’s senior team across the formats.

Also read: IPL 2024: Picked by 'accident', Shashank Singh turns out to be the real Punjab King

 The southpaw gained the spotlight when he hit five sixes in an over in a Ranji Trophy– India’s major domestic tournament– fixture against Baroda in 2018. Since he bowled decent medium pace as well, the IPL franchises were interested. He was bought at a whopping Rs5 crore by Royal Challengers Bangalore at the 2019 IPL auction. But he could only make 40 runs in four matches in his debut season.

That didn’t dent his spirit. He went back to domestic cricket and worked harder. His consistent performances for India ‘A’ helped him get a maiden call-up to the Indian T20 team for the series against Bangladesh in 2019. He showed some glimpses but couldn’t display his full potential at the international level and suddenly disappeared from the scene.

In the IPL as well, his performances were not taking off. He would play a good knock here and there but not good enough to grab eyeballs. After Royal Challengers Bangalore, he went to Rajasthan Royals in 2021. The results remained the same. His graph came down. It seemed Dube was another wannabe Indian all-rounder who couldn’t fit into the international arena.

Things changed for the Mumbai cricketer in the 2022 IPL auction. He was signed CSK, who are known to help struggling cricketers establish themselves, under the guidance of New Zealand coach Stephen Fleming and India’s World Cup-winning captain MS Dhoni.

The franchise backed him and gave him the freedom to express himself in the middle order. He had a breakthrough season in 2023, scoring 418 runs at a staggering strike rate of 158.33. It prompted national selectors to give him another go. He made a comeback to the Indian team late last year.

Before the start of IPL 2024, Dube struck two back-to-back unbeaten fifties against Afghanistan. In the six matches of IPL 2024 so far, he has scored 242 runs at an average of 60 and a strike rate of 163.51, and has shown a tremendous skillset both against spinners and pacers.

With India’s squad due to be announced for the upcoming T20 World Cup, which will be held in the USA and West Indies in June, it is hard to look away from Dube. His high impact and form with the bat make him the frontrunner to take the flight to the US. Chennai head coach Stephen Fleming also backed the idea.

“I love his power. I’m biased, aren’t I? But I think when you have a bit different power like that; I would have him in the side (for World Cup),” Fleming said in the press conference while replying to whether Dube should be in India’s World Cup squad.

Dube, who not long ago was another forgotten talent, could well be the key for India in their search for a World Cup trophy.

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