Matches (21)
PAK v WI [W] (1)
IPL (2)
County DIV1 (5)
County DIV2 (4)
WT20 WC QLF (Warm-up) (5)
RHF Trophy (4)
Match Analysis

Shivam Dube fireworks get CSK's IPL party finally off the ground

He brought back memories of Yuvraj Singh by making six-hitting look ridiculously easy with his long reach and fast hands

Deivarayan Muthu
Dwayne Bravo was so twitchy in the Chennai Super Kings dugout, when Robin Uthappa took on their old friend Faf du Plessis' arm at mid-on in the second over, that he leaned forward from his seat and almost shoved Chris Jordan away. du Plessis failed to throw the stumps down, but Bravo's expression encapsulated the mood in the Super Kings camp. They were desperate to snap their four-match losing streak, with their head coach Stephen Fleming even saying, in the lead-up to the game, that the team is searching for evidence that they're on the right track.
It was Shivam Dube - and Uthappa - who yanked Super Kings out of the funk with a sensational assault. After being asked to bat, Super Kings had dawdled to 60 for 2 in 10 overs. Josh Hazlewood, another old friend of theirs, had settled into Test match lines and lengths with the new ball, and was rewarded with the wicket of Ruturaj Gaikwad for 17 off 16 balls. Suyash Prabhudessai, the debutant, then swooped down on the ball at backward point and ran out Moeen Ali for 3 off 8 balls. After joining forces at 36 for 2 in the seventh over, Dube, in particular, dismantled Royal Challengers Bangalore's best-laid plans, propelling Super Kings to 216 for 4.
Take on Wanindu Hasaranga? Of course. Pump Shahbaz Ahmed out of the attack? Easy peasy. Feed the strike to Uthappa against pace? Sounds good. Clear the bigger boundary? Yes, sir.
After both Dube, who was promoted ahead of Ambati Rayudu, and Uthappa were becalmed in the early exchanges, it was Dube who properly started Super Kings' six-hitting party when he used his long reach to pick Hasaranga's second ball and mow it over long-on for an almighty six in the 11th over. Three balls later, he sat back for the shorter dart and hauled a pull to the midwicket boundary.
Shahbaz, the left-arm fingerspinner, then came on and dared Dube to clear the bigger leg-side boundary. Dube dropped down to one knee, launching into a slog-sweep that sailed over that boundary and brought back memories of Yuvraj Singh at his peak.
Much like Yuvraj did, Dube makes six-hitting look ridiculously easy with his long reach, strong base, fast hands, and a flourishing bat-swing. It was Dube's six-hitting ability - he hit fives sixes in an over off Pravin Tambe in a Mumbai T20 league in 2019 and then repeated the feat in the Ranji Trophy on the eve of the IPL 2019 auction - that made everyone sit up and take notice of him. Royal Challengers forked out INR 5 crore for him at that auction.
More than three years later, he left his former franchise punch-drunk with a 95 off 46 balls, studded with five fours and eight sixes. Dube's presence meant that Hasaranga couldn't get through the middle overs unscathed. Or maybe Royal Challengers had held back Hasaranga for MS Dhoni, but that move backfired. By the time Hasaranga had returned for his third over, Super Kings were 187 for 2 in 18 overs. Uthappa rolled out a vintage down-the-track lofted six first ball and then Dube swatted a perfectly blameless wrong'un over long-on for a six of his own.
Dube is often vulnerable to rapid pace and bounce, but one of his biggest strengths is making good balls look bad. Another case in point: when Hazlewood marginally missed his yorker in the final over of the innings, Dube sat so very deep that he converted it into a half-volley and walloped a 102-metre six over his head.
Dube threw his head back in despair and slumped to his knees at the end of the innings when he just fell short of a century, but he had put the smiles back on the faces of his team-mates. Bravo, Jordan, and the rest of the squad gave Dube a rousing reception. A few hours later, Super Kings secured their first points.
"I'm really happy I contributed to my team's first win," Dube told host broadcaster Star Sports after winning the Player-of-the-Match award. "It is really an honour for me to contribute for my team's first win. I think I'm more focused this time [in IPL 2022] and I'm focused on my basics - nothing much. I spoke to many senior players. Mahi [MS Dhoni] bhai also helped me improve my game. He told me to be still and just let the skill work in the game. As the situation demands, as the captain and coach tells me... I'm ready to bat anywhere."
Super Kings are still wondering how to fill the Deepak Chahar-sized hole, but Dube's flexibility and power has added another dimension to their batting.

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo