Shivam Dube hopes to cement spot with bigger, higher sixes
A return down the middle followed by a tap, Shivam Dube was matching Jason Holder’s forehand shots on the ping-pong table.
The video of the two playing table tennis a day before the series-deciding ODI at Cuttack, which India won by four wickets, went viral on social media with followers comparing Dube’s height—1.83m—with that of Holder, perhaps the tallest player in international cricket, a towering 2.01m.
With broad shoulders and pumped-up chest, Dube exudes power. And his effortless six-hitting prowess has shades of Kieron Pollard and Shimron Hetmeyer.
Last month, the 26-year-old had unfurled a pull to smash his first six in international cricket off Holder in the 2nd T20I at Thiruvananthapuram. Dube hit three more in the next over from Kieron Pollard with the sixes getting bigger and longer. High back lift, long reach, and a smooth swing—Dube could qualify as a perfect six-hitting manual for the new age cricketer.
“I don’t have to do any special kind of preparation for hitting sixes, it comes naturally. I liked hitting the big shots and used to practice it a lot,” Dube says in an exclusive chat with Hindustan Times. Dube and six hitting go a long way back. Before his blitz in Thiruvananthapuram (54 off 30), before his 15 sixes in only five innings in the Vijay Hazare Trophy—which fast tracked him to India’s limited overs side, and even before the five sixes in an over during the Ranji Trophy in December 2018 which resulted in a 5 crore IPL contract with RCB, it was a practice session in 2011 that brought him into limelight. In an open net session at the Air India Sports Complex in Mumbai, Dube hit more sixes than all others combined in a day.
The clean hitting did not go unnoticed as the then 18-year-old, who had quit the sport four years ago due to financial constraints, found an opening in Mumbai’s club cricket. The all-rounder became an instant hit in the Mitsui Shoji T20—a popular Mumbai league—and since then Dube’s attachment with sixes has only grown stronger.
In his short international career of 6 T20Is and a solitary ODI, Dube has got the opportunity to bat on five occasions. But only twice did he have more than five overs at his disposal but made sure that he showed the world a glimpse of his six-hitting ability.
The problem for the 26-year-old, however, will be his batting position. The left-hand bat was promoted to No.3 at Thiruvananthapuram, for Mumbai Dube bats in the top six and is often rotated depending on match situation. “I don’t mind whether I bat at No.3 or 7. I want to be someone who can bat anywhere and a bowler who can bowl in every situation. I don’t know about being a finisher with the bat. I’d be happy to play any role for the team,” Dube said.
Dube’s knack of hitting sixes also caught the eye of former India cricketer Yuvraj Singh. “I liked the fact that they included Shivam Dube. He is a good option because he a left-hander, who can hit big,” he had said.
Though batting is his forte, the Mumbaikar is also adamant to prove himself as a seam-bowling all-rounder. “I feel I am a proper all-rounder. We are a very strong team with lot of bowling options and sometimes the conditions demand a particular thing, so all these things come into play when we talk about that 4th-5th bowling option,” adds Dube. “But having said that, the goal is to complete my quota of overs in every match whether it’s a T20 or ODI.”
Dube was dropped for the last two ODIs against West Indies as India decided to play a much experienced Ravindra Jadeja as the specialist all-rounder. “The team management backs me. Team combination according to condition is of utmost importance. It doesn’t really matter whether I’m in the XI as long as we field the best XI. In the final two ODIs, they felt going in with a different combination, which was absolutely right. I don’t mind at all as the management is very clear about the combinations they want for a particular match.”
With India’s premier seam-bowling all-rounder Hardik Pandya progressing fast to be back for the New Zealand tour, Dube will have his task cut out in upcoming three T20Is against Sri Lanka followed by as many ODIs against Australia. But Dube doesn’t believe there is competition between him and Pandya. “I’m here to perform for India. I don’t think about any competition with Hardik. He’s one of the best around. But I don’t see him as a competitor. I just look at my game, where I need to improve, give that little bit extra to become a top all-rounder who can win matches for India.”