Shivam Dube: The 'big shot' in CSK's batting arm
His strike-rate of 160.41 has been higher than any other season and he’s hit nearly three times the number of sixes (33) compared to fours (12)
In many ways, Shivam Dube is a unique player in Indian cricket. He’s built like a tank, taller than most top order batters, has minimal foot work, relies on brute force more than anything, and is meant to be a six-hitting specialist.
However, in his first four seasons in the Indian Premier League, until the current one, he struggled for consistency and was in-and-out of every team he played for. Be it Royal Challengers Bangalore, Rajasthan Royals or Chennai Super Kings, each team entrusted him with an important role but he could only manage an average of 22.35 and a strike-rate of 129.86 in 35 matches.
Across the 2021 and ’22 IPL seasons, Dube played a total of 20 matches – nine for RR followed by 11 for CSK. And there were some particular ways in which he got out repeatedly during that period. He was troubled by the short ball, would get trapped in front by spinners, and attempt big hits only to miscue them.
Slow starts were another constant that held Dube back. He would eat up deliveries trying to get his eye in, before attempting to break the shackles and playing the wrong shot. It was a cycle wherein oppositions seemed to know exactly how to tie him up.
The 2023 IPL season, though, has been a game-changer for Dube. He’s batted up in the CSK middle order consistently and in the league stage, amassed 385 runs at an average of 38.50. His strike-rate of 160.41 has been higher than any other season and he’s hit nearly three times the number of sixes (33) compared to fours (12). In fact, the number of sixes he’s hit this season nearly matches the entire tally (38) from his previous four seasons.
As far as going big quickly, too, there’s been an improvement. After taking time to settle in his first four outings this season, five of the next eight matches saw him hit a six inside the first four balls he faced.
While Dube seems to have worked hard on his game heading into IPL 2023, credit for his resurgence should also go to how CSK have used him. They have a history of bringing the best out of players and the stability that the franchise seems to offer to its players has worked again.
“His (Dube’s) ability to hit the ball out of the park is amazing. He has got phenomenal power,” said CSK batting coach Michael Hussey.
“What is really important is the clarity on his role in the team. Stephen Fleming (head coach) and MSD (Dhoni) have been very clear in the role they see him playing. In his mind, he is so clear about how he needs to go about playing in any situation. Talking to him and working with him, he just feels very clear about how he needs to go about it. He is in a great place.”
Also Read: Chennai, Dhoni and an unbreakable bond
Former India Robin Uthappa gave further insight into the manner in which CSK groom their players.
“What happens when you join the CSK franchise is that there is a lot of clarity, they do a lot of simple things very, very well,” Uthappa told Jio Cinema. “Once a player comes into the team, the first thing that not just MS (Dhoni), but everybody in the support staff does is they have they have a conversation with the player, define the role expressively to the player. And they make them understand what their role is going to be and they keep an open line of communication with them at all times."
Dube has performed the role of an enforcer with aplomb. Against pace, he’s looked more assured and played the pull/hook effectively. And against spin, he’s picked the right deliveries to go after. Because of his great stature, he probably wouldn’t be able to rock back or forward from the crease as quickly as others, so he’s backed the power he possesses to lean either way just a bit and clear the ropes if a spinner errs in length.
These are subtle changes but being well aware of his strengths and sticking to them has paid off for the left-hander. With a clear head and the team management’s support, he’s played a pivotal role in guiding the four-time champions to the playoffs again. A fifth IPL title is in sight and CSK will be hoping Dube can continue to provide the middle order muscle.