Dhruv Jurel and not worrying about the little things

Dhruv Jurel stood below three wicketkeepers in the Indian team’s hierarchy as late as December 2023. Furthermore, Rishabh Pant is not on the list since he has been sidelined since his accident.

At the time, Jurel was KS Bharat’s understudy while on a South African trip with the India ‘A’ squad. The crew decided to go out to a neighbouring fast-casual chain restaurant called Nando’s for a team meal before the first unofficial Test in Potchefstroom. Even though there was a good variety of vegetarian options available, choosing one may often be challenging while travelling abroad. Jurel had to learn it the hard way.

One of the tour’s instructors, Ajay Ratra, recalls, “He doesn’t eat non-vegetarian on that specific day of the week, but there was some confusion and he ended up eating chicken.” To my joyful surprise, he handled the entire scenario with composure. He had the option to become upset and create a scene, but instead he chose to let things go and enjoyed himself with his dinner companions.”

It is understandable why Ratra, who has been coaching Jurel at Uttar Pradesh last year and has known him from the U19 days, refers to the 23-year-old as a “mast type ladka”. It translates approximately to “cool guy” in English, although the meaning is lost in translation.

Ratra continues, “He is not fussy at all,” regarding Jurel. “It helps when you keep adapting in life and it has certainly helped Jurel in his cricket career as well.”

Jurel has spent a large portion of his career thus far seizing the chances that life has given him. For example, his home side Uttar Pradesh was seeking for an opener during the Ranji Trophy last year so they could create room for an additional spinner. “Many guys weren’t up for it since the winters in the north are quite chilly.

“That’s when Dhruv came to me and said, ‘sir, main karta hoon’ (Sir, I will open the batting).”

In the game, Dhruv went on to register his highest first-class score of 249. When the Rajasthan Royals brought him in as an impact replacement ten months later, he hammered 32* off 15 and went on to participate in every match that season. Additionally, he was forced to wait until the seventh wicket fell in order to bat when he was handed his Test cap in Visakhapatnam. After seeing the three spinners bat before him, he ultimately made his way to the middle and scored 46 with Nos. 10 and 11.

He was given additional opportunity to show off his batting prowess in the Ranchi Test after being promoted a few slots. On the third day, he absolutely turned the tables on England by top-scoring with a 90. Think about this: When he went out to bat, India was 161/5 against England’s 353, and by the time he was bowled by a peach from Tom Hartley the following morning, India had crept up to 307.

It mattered not only how many runs he scored on a really challenging pitch, but also how he achieved them. Out of 35 singles, Jurel scored just five behind square because singles are a riskier alternative for the available reward. Later in the day, while facing the media, he would admit that playing straight was a “conscious decision” on a surface where the ball was keeping low. Accordingly, he struck four maximums and three boundaries in front of the square throughout his 149-ball innings.

Perhaps, since it would have required him to play a high-risk shot, he should have been worrying less about the little things. During his innings, he frequently faced balls that stayed low, beat his edge, or weren’t given the respect they deserved. Jurel adhered to cricket by percentages. Furthermore, he consistently trains striking the appropriate balance between offensive and defensive play in the nets, so it wasn’t a one-time event.

He enjoys confronting a lot of balls, and he frequently turns to face me after playing one. Then, we would talk about two possible ways to hit the identical ball: once for great reward and once with little risk. Ratra remarked, “For example, he would occasionally hit a ball for a six over covers, but we would also talk about whether the ball was there for a boundary along the ground.”

His three successive sixes that he hammered down the line even managed to clear the ropes quite a distance, indicating not just power but also timing. “He always works hard on his head position,” says Ratra, one of the few Test cricketers to have a BCCI Level 3 coaching qualification. “It’s best to use as many body parts as possible while producing force. The term for it is “summation of forces.” One of the best examples of that was when he struck out of Bashir.

Reaching the six is not a one-man job. It is not ideal since it messes with your timing that the head moves with the body when a lot of momentum has to be created from the body. Dhruv practises his strokes and faces hundreds and hundreds of balls all the time to keep his head steady. Because only then will you be able to properly shift your weight and establish a stronger connection with the ball.”

The composed demeanour Jurel displayed during his innings on Sunday, February 25, was mostly consistent with his practises in the nets in Lucknow. And it was precisely the way he lives his life overall. It has all been about not worrying about the little things, whether it is at Nando’s or on an up-and-down Ranchi pitch. And see where it has him.

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