A switch in time takes Dhruv Jurel into the India Test squad | Cricket - Hindustan Times

A switch in time takes Dhruv Jurel into the India Test squad

By, Lucknow
Jan 13, 2024 08:48 PM IST

Adding wicketkeeping skills has helped the Uttar Pradesh player to catch the eye of the national selectors and be included in the squad for the England Tests

In the very first selection trials he faced, Dhruv Jurel faced rejection as a batter. Next time, he went as 'keeper-batter on his coach Parvendra Yadav's insistence and made it as standby in the Uttar Pradesh team for the Under-14 Raj Singh Dungarpur Trophy.

Dhruv Jurel during IPL 2023 match for Rajasthan Royals(PTI)
Dhruv Jurel during IPL 2023 match for Rajasthan Royals(PTI)

There was no chance for him to show his skills straightaway. But he had a lucky break when he got a call for the final match against Madhya Pradesh after the two keepers in the team were ruled out due to injury. Jurel grabbed the chance and struck 137, helping the side lift the trophy.

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Thereafter the boy, who pursued cricket despite the early opposition by his army man father,

didn’t look back, performing at every level. His efforts have finally fetched him a place as the third 'keeper in the India squad named for the first two Tests in the home series against England starting on January 25.

“Both Jurel and his father were upset when I insisted that he should keep wicket at the nets (in the Spring Dale Cricket Academy, Agra) as he wanted to only be a batter. But I found a fire in his fielding and asked him to do 'keeping as well,” recalled coach Yadav, who coached Jurel for almost 11 years since 2009.

His India selection shows how far the 22-year-old has come since facing the ire of his father, Nam Sigh Jurel, Havildar in the army who fought in the Kargil War, for taking up cricket early on. “My father wanted me to join the army like him, but I chose to play cricket. Even for the kit, my mother had to sell her gold chain,” he said.

“Bahut bara keeper hai aur bahut lamba khelega India team main (he is a big wicketkeeper, will play for India for a long time),” said his coach Yadav on Saturday. “Jurel’s dedication to the game is amazing, he analyses the game well.”

Besides excelling for India in the Under-19 World Cup and Asia Cup and domestic age group matches, Jurel also did well for Uttar Pradesh in the senior level -- he has hit 790 runs in just 15 first-class matches. After scoring a fine half-century in the opening Ranji Trophy game last week, he scored a 38-ball 50 with five fours and three sixes in the tour match against England Lions on Friday.

Jurel’s best in local cricket came in 2017 when while playing for Hindustan College -- he hit 100 off just 21 balls in a T20 game. In the following year, he scored 762 runs in 11 matches and helped Uttar Pradesh win the Under-19 Cooch Behar Trophy.

“He (Jurel) always looks for runs and his hunger for batting has always been a special quality. He never missed training and is always open to learning new things,” said Yadav. “He could have been a good spinner also but was always focused on batting.”

He also made his mark on his IPL debut last year for Rajasthan Royals, scoring 152 runs in 13 matches (4 not outs) at a strike rate of 172.73. Jurel, who idolises MS Dhoni, is unlikely to make it to the Test playing XI as KL Rahul and KS Bharat are there but looks forward to sharing the dressing room with the India players.

“It’s a big opportunity for me to share the dressing room and learn about the game,” Jurel said.

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    Sharad Deep is a versatile sports journalist, who loves writing on cricket and Olympic sport. He has played cricket at the university level and has been writing for Hindustan Times since 1997.

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