Dubey eyeing a strong maiden show

Dubey eyeing a strong maiden show

LOOKING AHEAD: Royal Challengers Bangalore's Shivam Dubey is among the bright young prospects who will be in action this IPL. DH PHOTO/ SRIKANTA SHARMA R

Shivam Dubey's life changed in a matter of 48 hours last December. Firstly, on December 17, the Mumbai all-rounder hammered fives consecutive sixes off left-arm spinner Swapnil Singh in a Ranji Trophy game against Baroda.

Then, next afternoon, he gathered along with his entire family and friends at his home in Andheri West, the 25-year-old saw Royal Challengers Bangalore poach him for Rs 5 crore at the IPL auction. It was a dream-come-true moment for the soft-spoken youngster. Not only was he going to be a part of the biggest and richest T20 league in the world, but he would also be getting a chance to share the dressing room with a few of the game's greatest.

"It feels superb to be around Virat bhai and AB de Villiers," gushed Dubey at a media interaction on Wednesday. "(Everything) they do, you get to learn from. They are always nice to us and they treat us very nicely. It was very nice to get selected, especially RCB which is one of the best teams."

Although Dubey sent tongues wagging with his hefty price tag, RCB felt it could be a worthy investment on an Indian youngster -- so crucial to a team's balance. And Dubey, looking fit after losing several kilos following a strict fitness and diet routine, has made a strong case to be included in the playing XI when RCB take on Chennai Super Kings in the opening fixture this Saturday.

In last season's Ranji Trophy, he scored 632 runs (two centuries and three half-centuries) and bagged 23 wickets (one five-wicket haul), emerging as one of the few bright sparks in a disastrous campaign for Mumbai who failed to make the knock-outs.

He could only play two Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy matches as he was returning from a lower back injury but Dubey exuded confidence despite some butterflies in the stomach. "I am bit nervous, but very much excited about the tournament. Every player has a dream of playing for India and playing in the IPL. One of the dreams is going to come true and it will be good. It's going to be a good challenge for me. Playing in the middle-order as a finisher is my job."

Dubey also said he's not distracted by his pay slip or the high expectation that comes along with it. "I'm not thinking about Rs 5 crore. I'm just here to play cricket. I didn't expect it. But I was hoping to be selected at the auction because I had performed well in first-class cricket. So some expectation was there but I didn't think it would be this much."

Dubey is also looking at excelling in the all-rounder's role, hoping to lend RCB the much-needed balance. "It's always difficult being an all-rounder. You need to compete with the bowlers and batsmen. It's the (most) difficult job in the team. You need to maintain your fitness. I've been working a lot on my batting and bowling. As a medium pacer, I have to improve upon my pace, I know that and I am in the process now."

Dubey is among the rookies to watch out for this season. Standing over six feet tall and blessed the natural ability to send balls soaring into the stands, Dubey has the potential to flourish under the radar of stars in RCB. If he can do that, it'll serve him and the team well.