Rajasthan Royals' latest recruit Shivam Dube has made it clear that he ain't thinking about Hardik Pandya or international cricket much as he's focusing on the IPL and competing with himself only. He also added that Kumar Sangakkara has told him that he will be playing in the middle-order.
Shivam Dube, who was once touted as a potential replacement for Hardik Pandya, failed to impress much when he played for India last year. With Hardik Pandya getting fit again and reclaiming his place in the side, the doors of Indian cricket were shut for the Mumbai cricketer.
He wasn't even retained by his IPL franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore, which is led by Virat Kohli, despite doing well last season. However, all that Shivam Dube is focusing on right now is on the IPL and he made it clear that he doesn't think about Hardik Pandya rather competes with himself only. The all-rounder was picked by Rajasthan Royals this season, where he would be aiming to make steady progress in his career.
"Yes, as an all-rounder people have looked at me as a replacement of Hardik. As he is back in the side, there is no place in the Indian team right now. But I will reiterate that my focus is on getting better. My competition is with Shivam only. I am not thinking about Hardik or my future," Dube told TOI.
"Performing in every match and coming back into the Indian side would be great, but I am not thinking about it right now. The focus is on performing well in the IPL. Becoming better is more important than thinking about being in the international side."
The young southpaw wasn't utilized well in the RCB outfit. However, he's confident that he will get more chances to play for the RR side and even revealed that Kumar Sangakkara trusts him and feels he can solidify the middle-order.
"The Royals are very positive about me. Here I am going to get more chances. The management is trusting my skill in this format and I have spoken to Kumar Sangakkara (Director of Cricket) and he has told me that we want you to make our middle-order strong. As a batsman I am on a better side and this team needs me more in this role. So I consider myself fortunate to fill in for that role as well," the all-rounder said.
He also asserted that now he has improved in terms of handling the pressure that a big stage like IPL brings with itself.
"Maiden IPL season was a bit difficult for me. I felt a lot of pressure. I spoke to AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli and they told me to go out and just enjoy the match and focus on it. But ultimately it has to come out from within and I explained to myself that it's just the difference in the level from domestic cricket to IPL as the game remains the same. After playing at the international level it became easier for me as I grew more smarter."