School cricket, or more specifically, Mumbai’s Harris Shield is one of the toughest initiations for a young cricketer. This is where reputations are enhanced and confidence shattered. It’s widely believed that those who pass this litmus test, tend to make smooth progress into first-class cricket. Like Siddhesh Lad, Shivam Dubey, too, has risen through the ranks after working his way through the hard grind.
As he progressed through various age-groups, Dubey’s reputation as an all-rounder got further enhanced. After a string of fine performances at the u-23 level, he finally made his Ranji debut in the crucial quarter-final match against Karnataka last season. Despite Mumbai’s tepid exit in that knock-out game, Dubey stood out, scoring a brisk 71, and finishing with five wickets.
More than nine months later, in a fresh Ranji season, Dubey shone once again, displaying a fair degree of skill, maturity and game sense.
The 25-year-old used his broad shoulders and sinewy wrists to stoke a belligerent century, his first in first-class cricket. His 139-ball 114, replete with 13 boundaries and four sixes, propelled the domestic giants to a score of 411 at the stroke of lunch on Day 2.
The foundation of his belligerent knock was laid through a series of some solid partnerships. In the process, the all-rounder found allies, who played the role of second fiddle to perfection.
First-up, it was a 79-run partnership with Lad, who fell short of the three-figure mark by just a solitary run. This was followed by a 59-run stand for the seventh wicket with captain Dhawal Kulkarni.
Following his exploits with the bat, Dubey would return as a shrewd medium-pacer, hitting a nagging line, just outside the off-stump and a length that was short of the natural driving length.
In doing so, he was extremely miserly in his returns, and was also rewarded with the wicket of Railways opener Saurabh Wakaskar. As a bowler, he forged an alliance with fellow pacer Tushar Deshpande. While Deshpande was more prolific in his returns though, ripping through the Railways middle-order with pace, prising out three scalps. Deshpande’s brute of a delivery that rattled the stumps of opener Nitin Bhille stood out.
Together, both Dehspande and Dubey ended the day with 4 scalps between them, conceding just 45 runs from 22 overs. The twin spells, broke the back of the hosts. Despite brief resistances from their captain Mahesh Rawat’s 30 and middle-order batsman Arindam Ghosh’s unbeaten 39, Railways are staring down a possible follow-on. At stumps on the second day, they had meandered to 115/6, still trailing by another 296 runs.
“We are not thinking about the follow-on as of now. We will take a call as things progress tomorrow,” Dubey quipped after a memorable day.
Brief Scores: Mumbai 1st Innings 411 (Shivam Dubey 114, Siddhesh Lad 99, Suryakumar Yadav 83, Harsh Tyagi 4/83). Railways 115/6 (Arindam Ghosh 39 batting, Tushar Deshpande 3/29).