Isn't it time to move on from Shivam Dube?

Being out of form is one thing; Shivam Dube hasn’t been the same since his selection.
Shivam Dube India T20 World Cup 2024 move on?width=963&height=541&resizemode=4
The other spots are settled, and Dube looks like the weakest link in the unit.

You must be a specialist in a particular department to grab a place over Rinku Singh in the squad and Yashasvi Jaiswal in the Playing XI of a tournament like the T20 World Cup. Both aced their job in contrasting roles and deserved a place in the team. However, Rinku has to miss out on the 15-men unit, and Jaiswal, selected in the squad, hasn’t been in contention to play yet.

That is, more or less, to do with Shivam Dube. The all-rounder specialises in spin-hitting and can hit boundaries consistently against slow bowlers, a feature that helped him pip Rinku and Jaiswal. With key Indian batters struggling against spin, Dube’s value surged like anything; he was the ideal catalyst for spin threat teams would pose to the top and middle order.

But things aren’t as smooth in international cricket, and Shivam Dube learnt it immediately. Pressure makes you do weird stuff; Dube trying to smash pace over spin proved it. For some reason, Dube hasn’t been as fluent against tweakers this T20 World Cup, which has compelled him to go after pacers, his weaker suit.

His technique against pacers is nowhere near ideal; his jammed feet reduce his reach, and his bat swing on shorter-length deliveries is still not free-flowing enough to fetch him consistent boundaries at this level. The success against pace in IPL made him believe he could replicate the same and cover his non-boundary balls. That’s not his job, either.

Also Read: 3 Key Players for India in the semifinal clash against England

Being out of form is one thing; Dube hasn’t been the same since his selection. But even his process has been flawed, and he has deviated from why he was selected. In 30 balls Dube has faced vs spin, only four have reached boundaries and his strike rate of 123.68 doesn’t augur well for a specialist.

The ball-by-ball commentary of BCCI has an index showing aggressive and defensive shots, which relates to deliveries attacked and defended. That shows Dube has played aggressive shots on 68.42% of deliveries vs spin, but those strokes weren’t really aimed for boundaries all the time. Most of his attacking shots went to the fielders, and only 10.52% flew to the ropes.

Clearly, Dube hasn’t managed to generate as much power in his shots or pierce gaps as precisely as in IPL. That Dube has played 36.84% dot balls vs spin has added another layer of complexity to his struggles. It shows he hasn’t been as proactive with his approach, and his numbers against pace aren’t close to decent, either.

He has attacked only 49.18% of deliveries by speedsters and struck at a mere 96.72. The pitches have had a role to play, for they offered excessive seam movement in the New York leg and were largely unplayable. But it’s not that Dube is a top operator against pace, either.

Since the tracks were heavily pace-dominant, Dube should have been more aggressive against spinners. Instead, he tried dominating pacers when even elite players of pace struggled to keep the intent going.

Also Read: 3 England players who could be a threat to India in the Semi-final

During the Pakistan fixture, Dube didn’t try to take on Imad Wasim at all and went after Naseem Shah and perished. The ball moved so much off the deck, and Pakistan’s skilled pacers exploited the conditions severely. There was no game awareness from Dube since attacking the likes of Naseem on that track was always going to end one way.

Similarly, Dube took as many as 12 deliveries before going after a spinner against Bangladesh. The surface in Antigua wasn’t as harsh for batters, and the southpaw could still get 23 runs in 17 balls vs spin, hitting only two boundaries. It’s hard to tell his game plan, or maybe the pressure crowds his mind with uncertainties.

The thing is that Dube is not capable enough vs pace or as a bowler to find a spot in the side. His technique is flawed to handle quality operators at this level, which made his New York leg harder. Further, he has only bowled a solitary over in six matches, showing the team doesn’t trust him even to be the seventh bowler or, maybe, don’t need his bowling services.

India can bring in Sanju Samson, who is more fluent vs pace, and his numbers against spin are not abysmal. Samson has a better range against fast bowlers and showed encouraging progress on the off-pace deliveries in IPL 2024. The track in Guyana will be on the slower side, with pacers rolling their fingers over the ball.

That would make Dube’s life tougher, who can end up playing a match-losing knock. If India want a spin-hitter in the middle order, Axar Patel, who struck at 160.29 vs spin in IPL 2024, would solve that while also giving an LHB factor. In Samson, India will at least have a solid pace-hitter with a wider range and better technique.

If Sanju acquires a spot in the lower middle order, India will have an additional power player to do the finishing duties. Axar’s batting value will be fully extracted by promoting him while providing another batter to partner Hardik and Jadeja, who have struggled against pacers on sluggish tracks. Ideally, Rinku Singh should have been there, but the thought process behind that call was understandable, and there’s no point discussing that now.

The other spots are settled, and Dube looks like the weakest link in the unit. It might be slightly late already, but Samson must come in. The Shivam Dube gamble hasn’t worked, and the time to move on is now.

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