Shivam Dube’s father on how the Chennai Super Kings batsman rediscovered the spark

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“You suddenly changed the technique that helped you succeed all these years. Why are you lifting the bat so high?

Shivam Dube has played 13 T20 Internationals and an ODI for India, the last of which was against New Zealand in February 2020. When he returned from that tour, his father was incredibly angry with him.

Rajesh Dube has been the full-time coach of his son Shivam from the very beginning. A wrestler in his day, Rajesh sacrificed a lot in his life to ensure that his son got everything he needed, and more, to rise to the top as a cricketer. From selling his business, attending every game and practice session, to building a field in the backyard and throwing hundreds of throwdowns a day, to being declared insane by his family, Rajesh underwent it all without ever being deterred. He just had to watch his son play cricket for India.

After years of toil, Shivam has finally reached the top (read all about his journey here). But after being a regular in India’s white ball line-up for a few months, he was dropped from the team and has not been selected since. His last series in New Zealand in early 2020 left Rajesh convinced that there was only one thing left to do – work harder than ever before.

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“There was a problem with his backlift. It was too high. So he focused on that and I think he’s made good progress,” Rajesh Dube told Scroll.in.

“He trained for three hours twice a day. Hit for hours on end, hit thousands of balls a day. He worked very hard on his batting. There were things he needed to work on and he gave it his all. He has natural strength and ability, but this time he focused hard on reducing mistakes and building concentration.

Shivam was picked by Royal Challengers Bangalore before IPL 2019 for Rs 5 crore but he was unable to make a big impact in the two seasons he played for the franchise. For IPL 2021, Rajasthan Royals bid Rs 4.4 crore for him but he again struggled to cement his place in the side. Even Mumbai in domestic cricket lacked the consistency that had elevated him to the Indian team.

But he stayed with it. Both father and son stayed with it. Convinced that their time would come again. And it did, as Chennai Super Kings bid Rs 4 crore for Shivam on the mega auction ahead of IPL 2022. There was a sense of relief in the Dube household, but it was clear to them that this opportunity had to be seized.

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“Shivam was desperate for something big. Every athlete goes through ups and downs, it’s how you react that matters. And he was determined to bounce back,” said Rajesh Dube.

It is still early in IPL 2022, but it is clear that Shivam has indeed taken his game to the next level. The southpaw has hit two half-centuries in five matches and is currently the third-highest run scorer in the tournament. He got a 30-ball 49 against Lucknow Super Giants, a 30-ball 57 against Punjab Kings and finally a stunning 46-ball 95* to help CSK beat Royal Challengers Bangalore for their first win of the season.

Shivam has hit 13 sixes and 16 fours in the tournament so far, beating big international names like Kagiso Rabada, Josh Hazlewood and Wanindu Hasaranga. There is a marked improvement in his shot choice, the back lift, as his father insisted, is not so over the top, the body remains still and the clean swing of the bat sends the ball a long way.

Rajesh believes that the guidance of skipper Ravindra Jadeja, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and CSK management also plays an important role in Shivam’s progress.

“Playing with Dhoni helped him a lot. He gets a lot of motivation. It makes a big difference when a senior player treats you as an equal and he gets that kind of support at Chennai Super Kings,” said Rajesh.

“He told me: ‘Dhoni and Jadeja motivate me a lot and they have a lot of confidence in me’. You can get the best out of yourself when you know you can play consistently. And Shivam has that sense of stability right now.”

There is still a long way to go this season, but Shivam is off to a promising start. He’s been sidelined for the past two years, but with another T20 World Cup coming up he could put his name back on the map if he keeps up this form.

“Our approach has always been the same. Shivam didn’t make it to the Mumbai Under-15, U17 and U19 teams, but it didn’t matter. All he did was work hard, which is exactly what he does to this day. You cannot be put off by setbacks,” said Rajesh.

Shivam’s knockout against RCB is one of the best of any batter so far this season. He turned the game upside down with his power hitting and it came as no surprise that he was named player of the game, an award he dedicated to his father.

“It felt good when he did that,” said Rajesh. “I’ve devoted my whole life to him.”

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