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Shivam Dube’s All-Round Brilliance Lights Up India’s Victory Against Afghanistan in T20 Showdown

In the final international series before the T20 World Cup, India secured a convincing victory in their opening encounter against Afghanistan. While the spotlight was on Rohit Sharma who was playing his first T20 international after a year’s gap, the limelight was stolen by the youngsters, proving that India’s talent pool, especially in the game’s shortest format, is massive. Shivam Dube played a pivotal role in the 6-wicket victory along with Jitesh Sharma on a chilly Mohali evening where the Indian team management had to send hot water bags to help the players keep their hands warm!

Apart from the opposition, India’s first hurdle was the challenging conditions of Mohali. Facing a freezing temperature of 9°C, the Indian skipper acknowledged the importance of these matches in preparing for the T20 World Cup. The decision to include three spinners and only two frontline seamers, along with the all-round capability of Shivam Dube, showcased a potential template for the World Cup squad.

In the absence of key players like Virat Kohli, Shivam Dube’s multi-faceted contribution proved crucial for India in their victory against Afghanistan. Dube’s economical bowling, picking up a wicket for just 9 runs in 2 overs, set the tone early in the match. India had won the toss and put Afghanistan to bat who began well. The Afghan openers stitched a 50-run partnership before Indian bowlers struck in quick succession. With the score at 57 for 3, Afghan batsmen had to consolidate the innings which led to the slower run rate.

The Afghan innings saw contributions from Mohammad Nabi, Azmatullah Omarzai and Najibullah Zadran in the slog overs. Despite Nabi’s age, the experienced all-rounder proved his worth with a valuable 42 runs, guiding Afghanistan to a competitive total. On the bowling front, Axar Patel stood out in the absence of Ravindra Jadeja. The left-arm spinner delivered a disciplined performance, finishing with figures of 2 for 23 in his four overs. Washington Sundar, given the opportunity in place of Kuldeep Yadav, also contributed with a decent spell, showcasing his versatility by bowling in different phases of the innings.

The Indian innings didn’t begin well as Rohit Sharma was needlessly run out for a duck in the first over itself. He was visibly irritated with his partner Shubman Gill as Rohit was running to the danger end. After his departure, Shubman Gill stepped up with a brisk 23 off 12 balls, displaying his prowess despite not being initially slated to play. Gill’s aggressive approach set the tone for India’s chase, but Mujeeb Ur Rahman managed to get him stumped in the fourth over.

It was then that Shivam Dube emerged as the star performer even with the bat. Following his impressive bowling spell, Dube showcased his batting prowess with an unbeaten half-century. The lefthander not only handled spinners with ease but also took on Afghanistan’s seamers, guiding India to a comfortable victory. His unbeaten 60 off 40 balls showcased not only his ability to handle spinners and seamers but also his composure in anchoring the innings. Dube’s dual role as an all-rounder adds significant depth to the squad, providing an invaluable balance with his batting and bowling both.

Jitesh Sharma, known for his explosive finishes in the IPL, played a crucial role with a quickfire 31 off 20 balls. His aggressive approach complemented Dube’s steady innings, and ensured that India maintained control throughout the chase.

Dube’s ability to handle mystery spin from Mujeeb and counter Afghanistan’s seamers demonstrated his adaptability. His fifty off 38 balls showcased a mix of patience and aggression, ultimately steering India to victory with a six and four off Naveen-ul-Haq.

While the first match was marked by Shivam Dube’s standout performance, Indian fans would want their star players- Rohit and Virat- to dazzle before the T20 World Cup squad announcement. There has been speculation about their places in the team in the T20 format as both haven’t featured in any matches since the T20 World Cup in 2022. But it seems they have made up their minds to feature in the blue jersey even in the shortest format, exciting cricket fans even more.

India’s depth in talent was evident in the first game, showcasing their adaptability and resilience, which are crucial attributes ahead of the T20 World Cup. But as India looks forward to the remaining matches in the series and the upcoming IPL, the performances of Rohit and Virat will be closely observed. In particular, for Rohit Sharma, the series offers a great opportunity to solidify his role as a dynamic captain in the team and contribute significantly to India’s campaign on the global stage. Fans will be praying overtime that ‘Hitman’ hits the right notes in the two remaining games!

THE VIEWS EXPRESSED BY THE AUTHOR ARE PERSONAL

Siddhaarth Mahan The writer is a specialist on Sports and Cinema who works as an actor in the Hindi film industry

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