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Tanya Aldred reports that Dhruv Jurel's skill and hard work have helped fill India's gap in their match against England.
Cricket Sport

Tanya Aldred reports that Dhruv Jurel’s skill and hard work have helped fill India’s gap in their match against England.


Out of all the significant achievements India gained in winning the Test series against England in Ranchi, there were a few notable highlights. These include Ravichandran Ashwin’s outstanding performance with the new ball, crucial runs scored by emerging players Yashasvi Jaiswal and Shubman Gill, and most importantly, the impressive performance of the new wicketkeeper Dhruv Jurel.

After being injured in a car crash in December 2022, the talented Rishabh Pant’s absence has led India on a search for a suitable replacement, which has proved unsuccessful thus far. Ishan Kishan was tried out for a couple of Tests against West Indies, but KL Rahul was also given a chance after performing well in two Tests against South Africa. Despite not making any major mistakes, coach Rahul Dravid felt he was not ready to handle wicketkeeping duties against Bazball on Indian pitches. KS Bharat was then selected for all five Tests against Australia at the beginning of 2023, until he too was removed from the team after the second Test at Visakhapatnam.

Moving on to Jurel. He is India’s Under-19 team’s vice-captain, and he played alongside Jaiswal, who was named the player of the tournament, in the World Cup final in February 2020. With his strong hitting skills near the end of the game, he caught the attention of many during his time with the Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League. He also showcased his talent while playing for Uttar Pradesh. Jurel’s impressive batting skills at Ranchi did not come as a surprise to the director of the Royals, Zuran Bharucha. He shared that Jurel prepared for his Test debut by spending a whole day at the high performance centre, batting for 140 overs.

His performance in Rajkot was overshadowed by Sarfaraz Khan’s dancing 62, but he showed his skill with an impressive 46, including three easy sixes. In the fourth Test, he was even more impressive, scoring a game-changing 90 in the first innings while partnering with Kuldeep Yadav for a crucial 76-run stand for the eighth wicket. Despite a difficult situation in the second innings after Shoaib Bashir’s two wickets after lunch, his arrival gave the team a sense of reassurance.

He supported Gill and contributed to India’s score, securing the win with a swift shot behind the square for two runs from Tom Hartley. This sealed the victory with an unbroken partnership of 72 runs. Pant became the sixth Indian wicketkeeper to receive the player of the match award in a Test, with the distinction of achieving it twice, while also receiving high praise for his agility from Sachin Tendulkar. He also impressed with his quick decision making and adeptness as a wicketkeeper, shown in his run out of Ben Duckett in Rajkot.

Jurel’s story is one of struggle and perseverance. Similar to Jaiswal’s journey, he also moved to Mumbai and resided in a tent on Azad Maidan, working odd jobs like selling pani puri to make ends meet. Coming from a humble background, the 23-year-old has faced many challenges. At the age of five, he had to undergo plastic surgery after his left leg was crushed by a bus tire. And at 14, his father took a loan to buy him a Kashmir willow bat worth 2000 rupees (£20). When he asked for a kit bag as well, his father discouraged him from pursuing cricket and encouraged him to focus on his studies instead. Jurel was so determined to continue playing cricket that he locked himself in the bathroom and cried. His mother then sold her only gold necklace to fund his kit bag. As a young teenager, he left his home in Agra and joined a cricket academy in Noida, on the outskirts of Delhi, making all the sacrifices worth it.

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Good news has finally arrived for Pant, who has been sharing lively videos on social media. Delhi Capitals released a statement announcing that Pant will be able to participate in the 2024 IPL, pending approval from the BCCI. While he is expected to lead the team, he will initially play as a specialized batter. According to Ricky Ponting, head coach of Delhi, “Rishabh is confident that he will be fit to play. We are not sure in what role yet, but I am sure if I asked him now, he would say ‘I am playing every game, keeping every game, and batting at No. 4.’ That’s just how he is, but we will stay hopeful.”

Source: theguardian.com