Shivam Dube’s exploits from Ranji Trophy to India-A last year came at a time when Hardik Pandya and Vijay Shankar were nursing injuries, so the burly cricketer was catapulted into the India squad.
The Mumbai all-rounder has had a topsy-turvy ride so far in his 13 T20Is and a solitary ODI. The six-hitting sensation opens up in a chat with Sportstar on being considered as Hardik’s replacement and that fateful over at Mount Maunganui in February in which he conceded 34 runs in the last T20I against New Zealand.
After a quiet IPL 2019, you had an impressive stint for India A. How was that experience?
Playing for India A for the first time was really nice because Rahul (Dravid) sir was there and I got many things to understand. I realised the India A standards were really different than domestic cricket. Playing against international cricketers is really different, you have to be on your toes all the time. I played that tournament against Sri Lanka A. It wasn’t very good for me on the field but the learning process was really nice. I carried forward the learnings into the West Indies A series. I was the Man of the Series in the three-Test (unofficial) series as well. And then continued that into the South Africa A series. Was a very fruitful A series leg, I would say.
READ: The Saurashtra story and the homecoming of Ranji Trophy
With India set to play many T20Is, you must be expecting a call-up...
I wasn’t really expecting the India call-up as such. I have realised that if you keep delivering to your potential, the rewards will follow. I continued to improve myself as an all-rounder, rather than thinking about getting selected for India. Obviously once I got the call-up, it was exciting. And even in international cricket, I have just tried to focus on giving my best, be with the bat or the ball.
You have had limited opportunities with the bat and the ball in international cricket. Easy to pick the best moment yet, right?
(Smiles) Yes, kind of. That knock in Thiruvananthapuram (30-ball 54 after being promoted to No. 3 against West Indies) was satisfying. Any good outing, be it with the ball or the ball, in international cricket gives you a lot of confidence. What really pleased me about that knock in Thiruvananthapuram was that it came under pressure. More than the fifty, that I came good for the team pleased me.
Despite being a part of the ODI squad, you have hardly got an opportunity. What did you work on during those phases?
I was working on my bowling, my fitness and batting whenever I didn’t get an opportunity in ODIs. I have realised that if you have to succeed as an all-rounder in international cricket, you need to be super fit. I was working on that only. Besides, I was trying to prepare in the nets according to different situations.
Now that Hardik is back, you have had to make way for him. How do you look at it?
Whenever I am reminded that you are here to replace Hardik Pandya, I have said: “No, I am not here to replace Hardik Pandya, I am here to perform well and win matches for India”. Obviously Hardik is a senior and a crucial player, so whenever he is fit, he is going to walk into the team.
I feel playing with two all-rounders is always good for any team. It gives many options to the captain. I think there’s more percentage of winning matches with two all-rounders.
Can you talk us through that one over in Mount Maunganui?
You saw all about that over, why do you want to ask me about it! But I’ll tell you about that. There was a dropped catch, a misfield and all that. It’s part of the game. I know I went for 34 runs but it’s okay. It happens sometimes under pressure. What matters the most is we won the match.
The series was already won but despite that over, we won the match. After the match, all the teammates told me “don’t worry, it happens”. Even I thought the same. There was no point in keeping on thinking about it. Had the catch been taken off the second ball, the over would have been drastically different and we wouldn’t be discussing it right now.
READ: 'ICC Test championship without India-Pakistan tie makes no sense'
What’s the best compliment you have received so far and what’s the biggest challenge in a game?
Rohit bhai (Sharma) told me - once during a series and then after I won the best all-rounder award in Ranji Trophy (in January at BCCI Awards) - “You can play many years for India, as a proper batsman and also an all-rounder but you have to work on your bowling”. As for the challenge, I have encountered many such situations. In four-days (for India A) I have bowled 20 overs in each innings and contributed with the bat as well. That really tests you. And even in international cricket, to bat at various positions (3, 5 and 6) has been challenging and I have thoroughly enjoyed it.
What is the goal you have set for yourself for the next 12 months?
I was really looking forward to playing the Irani Cup (suspended due to COVID-19 outbreak). For me, it’s just the beginning, I need to improve myself a lot.
I am not someone who sets goals in terms of numbers. Be it on the field or off it while working on my fitness, I just have to ensure that I keep getting better as a cricketer.