With a salute, soldier’s son Dhruv Jurel responds to father’s wish

NEW DELHI: As a defiant Dhruv Jurel bailed India out of troubled waters and took his side to a position of strength on the third day of the Ranchi Test against England on Sunday, the youngster garnered praise from all quarters.
Scoring a spectacular 90 in only his second Test, the 23-year-old showcased great determination and temperament as legendary Sunil Gavaskar found the ‘next MS Dhoni‘ in making in him.
Jurel, who is not a graduate of some superbly fecund youth system, gave an indifferent shrug to the lack of buzz with a neat knock in only his second Test and a salute to his Kargil war veteran father after reaching his maiden international half-century.
It was a soldier’s son responding to his father’s wish, rescuing his team from a precarious situation against a formidable England side while chaperoning the lower-order batters with an unwavering desire to succeed among the sport’s elites.
“It was for my father. He is a Kargil war veteran. Yesterday I spoke and he indirectly said, ‘son, at least show me a salute’. That is what I have been doing all my growing up years. It was for him,” Jurel said at the end of his most memorable day in the sport thus far.
His father Nem Chand was a retired Havildar with the armed forces and fought the Kargil war in 1999 before taking voluntary retirement.
Jurel came into bat with India in a spot of bother at 161 for five. First, he found an able ally in Kuldeep Yadav (28) and added 76 runs for the eight wicket with the left-arm wrist spinner.
Then, in another defiant stand, Jurel stitched 40 runs for the ninth wicket with debutant Akash Deep, quite remarkable for someone playing only his second Test.
“It’s my debut Test series, obviously there will be some pressure. But when I got in, I just thought of what the team needed from me. The longer I stay here and make runs the better for me,” Jurel said about his gameplan during the media interaction after the third day’s play.
Regarding his partnership with Kuldeep, he said, “We both come from UP, we have good understanding, played a lot of domestic cricket together, we kept talking with each other and it helped in our partnership.”
‘Next MS Dhoni’
The new wicketkeeper-batter’s impact with the bat, as well as the big gloves, prompted the legendary Sunil Gavaskar to draw parallels with Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
“He is the next MS Dhoni in making,” Gavaskar remarked on TV.
Needless to say, Jurel was quite chuffed about the comparisons with a man of Dhoni’s stature.
“Obviously it’s a good feeling to hear a legend like Sunil Gavaskar talk about me. The mood was great, there were no specific instructions… just to go out and play. Watch the ball and play. Just that the long I play the better it is.”
About missing what would have been a well-deserved hundred, he said has no regrets.
“I don’t regret a bit on missing the hundred. It’s my debut Test series, I’m just desperate to lift this trophy in my hands. It’s always a childhood dream to play for India in Tests.”
As he got out, the crowd gave him a standing ovation and even the English cricketers, including his Rajasthan Royals teammate Joe Root, came rushing to congratulate him.
On batting with tail-enders, he said: “There was no specific plan, but it is important to show confidence and faith.
“I had to tell them that you can bat. That is what we planned and it worked out. Both (Akash Deep and Siraj) are decent batters, they bat in IPL as well. I told them the same and it was necessary. They did well.”
Having played in the IPL, Jurel has all the shots in his armoury but he bats as per the situation.
“No one is naturally aggressive. You bat as per the situation. In IPL, when you go out in the middle you need like 35-40 runs in 15 balls, there you cannot play defensively.
“Here I had to bat long, so you can’t swing your bat around, it would be risky. I tried to spend as much time as possible on this wicket,” he said.
Hard work pays off
Jurel said he likes to draw strategies well in advance and believes in “visualisation and manifestation process” before facing any bowler.
He had done the same before standing up to the likes of James Anderson, Mark Wood and Tom Hartley in his debut series.
“Hard work is there, but I believe in visualisation and manifestation. Whatever match or series, one or two weeks prior I start preparation looking at the bowling line-up, who will bowl and how will I play them. I play out the scenarios and it helps.
“I visualised that whoever is the bowler Anderson, Mark Wood, Hartley, whatever they bowl, I see their videos where they bowl and where are my zones and how can I hit them.
“The wicket has low bounce, so obviously the runs stopped coming from the square of the wicket. I felt I had to play straight.
“The ball was keeping low and I kept it in my subconscious mind that it is staying low and I have to be ready and play straight. Whatever shot I hit, I hit them straight,” he said.
Jurel was also terrific with his keeping and impressed everyone with his high overhead takes, as well as the quick reflexes behind the stumps, which reminded everyone of the great Dhoni.
Jurel’s catch to dismiss England number 11 Anderson, who tried a reverse flick Ravichandran Ashwin, was particularly noteworthy.
“They are world-class bowlers, their styles are different from others and it is a little tough. I love challenges, whatever they are I take it on and do it,” he signed off.
The cricketer’s dad was mourning the loss of his own father when a 14-year-old Jurel had to leave unaccompanied from his Agra home to knock on the doors of a cricket academy in Noida.
The year was 2014 and Jurel’s father Nem Chand had only recently come around to accepting his cricketing ambitions but had to stay put at home while his teenaged son began the difficult journey.
The academy where Jurel landed belonged to Noida’s most famous cricket coach Phool Chand, who was taken aback by the absence of any guardian with the boy before taking him under his wings.
(With inputs from PTI)

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