5 T20Is old, Shivam Dube's knock in Trivandrum echoes singular sentiment - 'I belong'
Standing at 6 feet tall, Dube is not your typical Indian batsman, somewhere around 5' 8", easy on the eye, mostly classy and one who can hit the odd boundary. The all-rounder possesses brute force and prides himself on it.
Many first heard of Shivam Dube when he smoked 5 sixes off consecutive deliveries in a Ranji Trophy match.
After getting picked by Royal Challengers Bangalore in IPL 2018 on the back of his six-hitting ability, Dube reiterated his prowess soon with another bout of five sixes in an over against Pravin Tambe in a local Mumbai T20 tournament.
Breaking into the Indian team
India picked two medium pace all-rounders in their World Cup playing XI, Hardik Pandya and Vijay Shankar. Post the World Cup, both of them suffered injuries. While Pandya is still recovering, Shankar recovered and has been performing well in the domestic circuit lately but seems to have fallen out of favour.
During the same period, Shivam Dube began to come up with the goods with performances in the domestic 50-over competition, Vijay Hazare trophy and the A series against West Indies and South Africa.
In the four T20Is he had played before the one on Sunday, Dube contributed once in the 3rd T20I against Bangladesh, picking up 3 wickets but had nothing to show with the bat.
Promoted in the batting order
On a wicket that seemed to assist the spinners, India took a punt by deciding to send him out at number 3. Various reasons explain this move.
India's top four batsmen Rohit Sharma, Lokesh Rahul, Virat Kohli and Shreyas Iyer were all right-handers and a left-hander would help to keep the combination going. Dube is known for his ability of hitting humongous sixes against spinners and the team also thought of unsettling the West Indian bowling.
Above all, there was also an objective to help Dube spend some time in the middle. Prior to this, Dube had only scored 10 international runs and it was necessary to test him out in the middle to decide on his future in the Indian team.
In short, there was a lot riding on this inning as Dube walked out to bat.
"We knew the pitch is going to help spinners, so we thought why not Shivam go up and attack the spinner. That was the plan, worked very well" Virat Kohli said after the match.
Dube's moment in the sun
Coming in to bat ahead of the world's best limited-overs batsman Virat Kohli, the stage was set for Dube to show the world what he is made of. However, the Mumbaikar did not find everything all that rosy after taking guard.
"It was a big deal for me (to bat at No 3)... I was under a bit of pressure," Dube later conceded.
Gauging the slow nature of the pitch, Windies skipper Kieron Pollard brought himself on in the sixth over. Dube found his change of pace deliveries and cutters difficult to put away. Struggling on 12 off 14, with timing eluding him, the move to introduce him as the pinch hitter seemed to be backfiring.
This is when the tables began to turn.
Jason Holder floated back-to-back deliveries right in his arc that went for 10 runs and it felt as if Dube had tasted blood. From the other end, Pollard, riding high on his economical last over, became a bit greedy and decided to bowl another one. The result was that he went for 26, courtesy of three powerful strikes from Dube.
He had arrived at the world stage.
That said, 25 of his 54 runs came against Pollard and that too off just 11 deliveries, at a strike rate of 227.27. Now Pollard, especially after his knee injury, is not the most fearsome bowler you would face at the highest level.
You can't take anything away from Dube's maiden international half-century, but if you put aside his runs against Pollard, the remaining 29 runs off 19 at a strike rate of 152.63 don't appear as startling.
To provide cotext, this is just one good knock and that is good enough to show promise, but not the temperament and consistency of the individual. This will certainly help consolidate this feeling in the all-rounder that he belongs at the biggest stage. It is only after this assurance that the best of any player starts coming to the fore, and Trivandrum may just be that tipping point for Dube.
©Cricket World 2019