Has Shivam Dube opened World Cup selection door?

Shivam Dube. Source: IPL

At 104 for 4, Mumbai were in a spot of bother against Karnataka in a 50-over Vijay Hazare Trophy match played in October 2019. Soon it became 169 for 6, and the South Zone side looked all set to wrap it up. But it didn’t exactly pan out that way. It is true that Karnataka eventually pipped Mumbai but only by a margin of nine runs. The reason for that narrow margin of victory was Shivam Dube.

He proceeded to smack 10 sixes and seven fours in his breezy 67-ball 118. The bowler who was at the receiving end of Dube’s pyrotechnics was the spinner, Shreyas Gopal. That innings confirmed the growing chatter on the Indian domestic circuit that Dube was a powerful hitter, especially while facing spin.

Despite Dube gaining a reputation on the domestic circuit, success eluded him in the IPL. Over three seasons, Dube’s strike-rates were 121.21, 122.85 and 119.17 respectively. Subsequently, he was bought by CSK in the 2022 auction, and that turned out to be the beginning of a new dawn for the affable all-rounder. Since being recruited by CSK, his averages in IPL have spiked up to 28.9, 38 and 60.5 in 2022, 2023 and 2024. More importantly, his strike-rates too have been on an upward curve – 156.22, 158.33 and 163.51. This season alone, Dube has clubbed 15 sixes and 20 boundaries.

Over the last few years, there have been lingering doubts over whether Dube can handle pace bowling. At CSK, though, he seems to have countered his nemesis with a degree of confidence. Just do some number-crunching and you will observe that he has been striking at 155.26 versus pace in this year’s tournament, while his strike-rate against spin stands at an astounding 191.17.

So, what could be one of the reasons behind Dube’s improved game against pace? Has he tweaked his method a bit? Just scroll through the highlights of his breezy innings in the MI-CSK game and you will get the answer. When Hardik Pandya ushered in a short ball, he went back and across just enough to crack the pull. He also largely read Mumbai Indians’ double-bluff of bowling fuller-length deliveries by employing lofts and drives.

For the Latest Sports News: Click Here

Shivam Dube for CSK (Image: IPL)

In the 18th over, Dube was once more in a decent position to pull Gerald Coetzee, who in turn is known for summoning up quick spells and hitting the deck hard from a high release. Although it eventually turned out to be a top edge, it was quite evident that Dube had a better understanding of his game versus pace. This is in contrast to his previous efforts where he would clear the front leg and try to hoick hard length across the line. Dube is a tall man and that gives him an added advantage to get on top of short deliveries. Over the last couple of seasons, he also seems to have made minor adjustments.

So, that brings us to the question of whether Dube should be picked for the upcoming T20 World Cup. He has enough credentials going his way. For starters, he is a proven spin-basher. Hard-length bowling isn’t a major worry now. However, there is a small caveat. Dube is yet to bowl an over in the tournament, with the franchise using him as an impact sub in some of the matches.

On a positive note, he seemed to be bending his back a little more in order to extract some bounce in the Ranji Trophy 2023-24. Unfortunately, he suffered a side strain at the fag end of the Indian domestic season. From India’s point of view, it would do a world of good for Dube if he ends up bowling a few overs in the rest of CSK’s campaign.

Hardik is the other contender to fill the missing piece in the Indian jigsaw. Some months ago, Hardik fighting for a place in the limited-overs squad would have been an unthinkable prospect. But he has looked a pale shadow of his former self both with bat and ball in this IPL. On Sunday night, he was tonked for three sixes in a row by MS Dhoni. More worryingly, his slower ones and back-of-length deliveries were sitting up for the batter to land the big shots.

There is still enough time left for Hardik to bounce back and make a case for himself. But with his consistent performances, Dube might have just sneaked ahead and opened the selection-door for the World Cup.

Also Read: Blistering Dhoni cameo has fans glued to their screens