Shivam Dube walking in at No. 3 wasn’t something many people outside the Indian team management expected at the Greenfield Stadium on Sunday night.
The all-rounder, however, justified the faith in him. His blistering fifty gave the Indian bowlers something to bowl at (though not enough, it would prove).
His maiden international half-century may have been overshadowed by the aggressive West Indies batting later in the night, but it has added a new dimension to the team composition.
He has been a like-for-like replacement for Hardik Pandya, but it won’t hurt the Men in Blue to have another pace-bowling all-rounder in the squad, especially at a time when there is plenty of white-ball cricket being played.
It was Dube’s big-hitting prowess that landed him a contract with the Royal Challengers Bangalore last year and on Sunday, he proved he could deliver on the international stage. He has been the biggest gain yet for India in the series.
His success also shows the gains you could have when you are ready to experiment and be flexible, though Virat Kohli has stated that he would like to field an eleven that is as close to the one that could play at the T20 World Cup in Australia next year.
Rishabh Pant’s batting in both the games could also please Kohli. As would K.L. Rahul’s 62 in the first match.
What Kohli won’t be pleased with is the way India has fielded. The captain himself and Rahul may have made up for the five dropped catches at Hyderabad, with their century-partnership for the second wicket, but India had to pay for their poor catching in the second match.
Two dropped catches in one Bhuvneshwar Kumar over would prove extremely costly, as both the beneficiaries, Lendl Simmons and Evin Lewis, went on to frustrate the Indian bowlers. Their opening-wicket stand of 73 took their team closer to the target.
One of those catches was dropped by Washington Sundar, who had an even worse game in the field in the Hyderabad match. The off-spinning all-rounder must be desperate to put those nightmares behind him. It would be unfair to point fingers only at him, though.
Kohli was understandably upset about India’s fielding, but don’t be surprised if his men come up with a much-improved display in Mumbai. This is such an excellent fielding side, after all.
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