It is well known that the Indian cricketing fraternity is often over-reacts and prematurely judges a player’s potential based on performances early on in their career; Karun Nair is a prime example of this. After those historic innings on December 19th, 2016 which saw him become only the second Indian to slam a triple century in the longest format of the game, he was labeled the next big thing in world cricket and was also prophesized to be the spiritual successor of the legendary Virender Sehwag. However, he only managed to score 300 runs in his next 15 innings, averaging a measly 20 runs, this subsequently led to him being dropped. The now 28-year old Nair has not played for the Indian team since 25th March 2017.
This is why one must be careful while evaluating performance by a newcomer, especially when it is as flashy and impressive as Shivam Dube’s sensational half-century against West Indies on Sunday. On a pitch where veterans Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli struggled for timing, Dube played a fluent 30-ball 54 studded with 3 fours and 4 sixes at a staggering strike rate of 180. Though he did not quite find his groove in the first half of his innings, a fateful Kieron Pollard over which got smashed for 26 runs were all it took for people to realize that Dube is not your average joe.
For instance, all his shots are filled to the brim with raw power; each one of his strokes crackles the air like a whip on a warm, humid morning. He has often claimed before that his strength as a batsman lies in his power hitting and it shows. It also helps that he stands a towering 6 feet 4 inches, a full foot taller than his teammate Kedar Jadhav, giving him the reach and bat swing powerful enough to clear the biggest boundaries in the world.
This is not the first time that Dube’s hard-hitting has brought him onto the spotlight, in a Ranji Trophy match against Baroda, he hit five sixes off of Swapnil Singh’s over to take him from 45 to 7 within a span of 5 balls. This happened right before the 2019 IPL auctions and it ultimately led to him being bought by the Royal Challengers Bangalore for an unprecedented 5 crores.
Though the highlight of the match on Sunday was his batting, Dube is an all-rounder and has previously enthralled viewers and critics alike with his bowling in the domestic circuit. He bowls right-arm medium pace and plays for Mumbai in the various Indian domestic leagues. He was especially impressive in the 2018 season of the Ranji trophy where he ended up being the leading wicket-taker for Mumbai, with 23 dismissals in 8 matches. Though he has already proved his worth in the domestic circuit it is yet to be seen if he is a good enough cricketer to play consistently well on the international stage.
So the question remains; is Shivam Dube a genuine talent or another victim of the infamous Indian hype-train? It can only be answered after watching him play at the international level for at least a couple more series.
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