Cricket is cruel. Cricket will break your heart. But while life may or may not give you a second chance, cricket somehow finds a way. And often, it’s grabbing these second chances that could help make or break a player’s career, whether internationally or in T20s. The ability to grab the opportunity when the sport does decide to throw one their way, the timing of their performances – is often as important as the talent itself.
The careers of two of our Royals, albeit born half a generation apart, have come together in telling two similar tales. One, a 19-year-old Yashasvi Jaiswal with a hugely promising career ahead of him. The other, a 28-year-old Shivam Dube who rose quickly to the top of his ambitions, and is now working towards finding his way back there. What really brings them together is the IPL, the Royals family, and their sheer patience being the foundation of their recent success.
An 18-year-old Yashasvi burst onto the scene with his incredible form in the 2020 U-19 World Cup. Topping the scoring charts in the tournament, the left-handed opening batter soon made his entry in senior cricket. His domestic experience and the promise that he brings with his batting, impressed the thinktank at the Royals, as we signed the youngster in the auction ahead of IPL 2020.
Despite slotting straight into the XI and opening the batting with Steve Smith at the beginning of the previous season, Yashasvi was only picked for two more matches. In the three matches that he played in IPL 2020, he managed to score 40 runs, at an underwhelming strike rate of 90. His lukewarm performances as well as other potential opening options in Stokes, Jos, Smith and Uthappa, made it difficult for him to get his place back.
He’s known to be a young boy completely consumed by the sport. You won’t see Yashasvi spending time doing anything else in the bubble during the season – whether gaming or anything else. This is a man who loves batting for hours, someone the team manager has to force to get out of the nets and back into the bus to return to the hotel! After IPL matches, he’s immediately on the prowl to pick the brains of senior Indian and international players from the opposition. He has a relentless focus on cricket and on becoming a better cricketer, which can make life difficult for him when he’s not playing.
Hence the India leg of IPL 2021 was difficult for him, as he only played three matches, all towards the back end. He first played against KKR, when he opened with Jos Buttler, setting the foundation for what quickly became an effective opening combination. He then chose to spend the off-season working even harder, staying for several weeks at our high performance centre in Nagpur. His good form in training and practice matches meant that he retained his place in the side when the season resumed in UAE. Five matches later, he has 237 runs with an average close to 30 and a strike rate of above 150 in 8 innings this season. The tally also includes his maiden half-century in T20s - a 20-ball 50 against Chennai Super Kings. It was a moment to savour for the young man, who had tragically perished on 49 against Punjab a few games ago.
From being overlooked for most of the first half to becoming an undroppable asset with his superb batting in the Powerplay, the young boy has come really far in a matter of months. A similar story with more twists and turns, is that of Shivam Dube’s. A man whose India debut didn’t come too long from the start of his senior career, and who is now finding himself again in the IPL.
After being released by RCB before this year’s auction and subsequently picked up by the Royals, Shivam started the season in the playing XI, and played 6 out of the 7 matches in the India leg. While there were glimpses of his talent in a couple of matches, Shivam didn’t quite do justice to his talent in April-May, in a new role at No.4, which provided more opportunities to score big. He was eventually left out for our game against SRH in New Delhi, where Jos hammered a memorable century in a thumping win. From then on, Shivam had to stay patient as he was left out of the XI in UAE when the tournament resumed as well.
Despite being left out of the XI and not travelling to one of the games as well, Shivam kept at it every single day. An introvert by nature, he speaks less and focuses on the game. He put in his all in every training session in UAE, and in some style. He has been in scintillating form in training, notorious for losing balls every day, often sending them out onto the roads.
So when Riyan Parag was left out of the XI, the 28-year-old stepped in for the must-win clash against CSK on Saturday. After Yashasvi’s heroics in the Powerplay, two quick wickets meant that we needed to find a way to sustain that initial momentum. In came Shivam Dube, who not only stabilised the chase through a partnership with Sanju, but also accelerated the innings further in the process. He scored an unbeaten 64 off 42 balls, smashing the CSK bowlers and taking his team home by seven wickets.