Vijay Shankar was considered a backup all-rounder for Hardik Pandya. But after the 2019 World Cup, Shankar has been out of sight. Meanwhile, Pandya has been struggling with injuries and missed a few series as well.
Indian selectors tried a gamble with a young all-rounder in Shivam Dube in the T20I series against Bangladesh. And the young Dube has reposed the faith shown by the selectors by putting up a match-winning bowling effort of 3/30 in the third T20I against Bangladesh at Nagpur.
It was his bowling effort that saw RCB retain him for IPL 2020 after an ordinary performance in the last season. But the more pertinent question is whether he can be a reliable backup for Hardik Pandya? Is Dube the best competitor for Pandya in T20Is?
What works for Dube?
He’s a fast learner and hungry to prove himself
In the Nagpur T20I, Dube went for 23 runs for no wicket in his first two overs. But he bounced back to take three wickets for 7 runs in his next two overs to turn around the match for India before Deepak Chahar cleaned up the tail.
Dube said captain Rohit Sharma edged him to back his game despite going for runs in his first two overs. And Dube then made his captain proud by taking three wickets. It shows Dube is a fast learner and can be a useful sixth-bowling option for India in T20Is if not the fifth bowler.
He is also keen to prove himself and has made the best use of the opportunities he received in the T20I series against Bangladesh.
What does not work for Dube?
His batting yet to make a mark
Although he raked up a few big numbers in domestic cricket, Dube is yet to shine with the bat for India or for his IPL team Royal Challengers Bangalore. So, unless he makes it count with the bat, he will be considered a second all-rounder in waiting behind Pandya if not the third after Shankar.
But Dube is known for his big hits and it would be just a matter of time that he comes good with the bat in IPL or for India.
But Dube won’t be getting many opportunities for India if Pandya comes back to full fitness. Hence, Dube has to put up match-winning performances with the bat to either pip Pandya for the all-rounder’s spot or force the team management to go with two all-rounders in Dube and Pandya in T20Is.
Hence, as long as Pandya is recovering, Dube may get his chances, but time would be running out for him.
It’s a long way for Dube
Dube has just started his international career and had a poor outing with RCB last season. On the other hand, Pandya has been a match-winner with both bat and ball for India across all formats and for Mumbai Indians in the IPL.
Pandya has a limited but a good bank of success with bat and ball. Dube is just off the mark. But Dube has shown promise and if given the due opportunities and groomed well, he too can give Pandya a run for his money or may even sideline the Mumbai Indians all-rounder from the Indian team.
The ball is in Dube’s court to prove he is the all-rounder that India are looking for in addition to Pandya.