RCB thinktank assign finisher’s role to Dube

Shivam Dube was in his house with a bunch of friends, family and well-wishers watching the auction of the Indian Premier League last December. The bunch erupted into a chorus of cheers as he was sold to the Royal Challengers Bangalore for a whopping 5 crore. And why not, given that Dube had given himself and his chances of getting bagged a massive boost having smashed five sixes in an over a day prior to the auction in a Ranji Trophy match against Baroda.

“I’m not thinking about the 5 crore,” said Dube in Bangalore on Wednesday (March 20). “I’m just here to play cricket. I didn’t expect it, but I was hoping to be selected at the auction because I had performed well in first-class cricket. So some expectation was there but I didn’t think it would be this much.

“It was very nice to get selected, especially by RCB. RCB is one of the best teams I feel. And playing under Virat bhai is something different. I am a bit nervous, but very excited about the tournament. Every player has a dream of playing for India and playing in the IPL. One of the dream is going to come true and it will be good.”

Dube comes into a set-up that was looking largely at strengthening their middle order that was one of their glaring weak links last season. And given Dube’s ability to hit the big shots, he fits into the role of a finisher, lower in the middle order perfectly for RCB.

“I have got tips from Ashish bhai and Gary sir like I am going to bat at number six or number seven. They are thinking about me as a finisher in the team. We can analyse that while practicing and I will be prepared for that role.

“It’s going to be a good challenge for me. Playing in the middle order as a finisher is my job. I’ll give it 100%. It’s going to be challenging and more learning for me too. I’ll do what the team requires. The team’s requirement is more than my own.”

Dube isn’t coming into the IPL on the back of a lot of games, having played just two Syed Mushtaq Ali games in March prior to the Mumbai’s Ranji Trophy game against Chattisgarh in January. It was a lower back injury that set him back, giving him time at the NCA in Bangalore between January 20 until March 9 to work on his fitness as well as give him some much-needed time to be able to prepare himself for the IPL.

“If you want to play good cricket, you need to be fit. I’ve worked a lot on that and I’ve come to a level where I’m happy. I’ve changed my diet and workouts too. I have stopped eating rice, wheat and all, but sometimes I have to eat rice for my carbs. I’m doing the training that is required for my cricket.

“It was not only my rehab, as practicing was my other part. I was working a lot on my batting and bowling. I was practicing in order to be in the levels of an IPL player. It’s always being difficult being an all-rounder. You need to compete with the bowlers and batsmen. It’s the difficult job in the team. You need to maintain your fitness. I work hard for that. I’m going to compete as a good batsman and as good bowler also.”

Dube credits his six-hitting ability to his strength in his younger days, where he would clear outfields with ease. He calls himself a “power-hitter” at a time when a lot of his contemporaries couldn’t do what he was doing with as much comfort. But much of the criticism he cops is of being a player that only can largely hit straight down the ground.

“Coaches used to tell my dad that your son is strong at an early age, so I was a power-hitter. That was a natural gift from God, but I also practice a lot on that. I’m working at a higher level right now. It’s not going to be only the on-side or leg-side. It’s going to be everywhere.”

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