CHENNAI: Chasing 198 against Punjab Kings, hosts Rajasthan Royals were tottering at 124/6 after 15 overs when their impact player Dhruv Jurel walked in to give company to the big-hitting Shimron Hetmyer. Home fans at the Barsapara Cricket Stadium in Guwahati were expecting the left-hand batter from Guyana to take the fight back to Punjab bowlers with Dhruv supporting.
Hetmyer didn't disappoint but what surprised the fans most was the way the 22-year-old Dhruv swept Australian pacer Nathan Ellis's fifth ball of the 17th over backward square leg for a six. The spectators might have been surprised but not Parvendra Yadav, coach of the Spring Dale Cricket Academy in Agra, Uttar Pradesh. He always knew his ward had the ability to hit any bowler out of the park if the situation demanded.
It was just the beginning as Dhruv then plundered India pacer, Arshdeep Singh for runs in the penultimate overs hitting him for a four, a six and a four off consecutive deliveries to take the team within touching distance. "The inside out six that he hit off Arshdeep is his favourite shot. He missed the next one trying to guide the ball to the third man. Had he played straight, he could have scored another boundary but that's how the game is played," added the coach, who started training Dhruv when he was 9.
Nem Singh Jurel, Dhruv's father, is a Kargil war veteran and wanted his son to join the Indian Army. Dhruv, however, fell in love with cricket quite early forcing his father to request coach Parvendra to hone his cricketing skills as both the families live in Defence Colony.
"I was lying under the cooler and repairing it when I realised somebody touched my feet. I came out and saw Jurel standing there with his father. 'Sir, please make him a cricketer, now he is all yours', his father had told me. But I told him that I will only give admission to the boy after the trials," added the coach.
He impressed the coach and started training under him. Given his quick reflexes while fielding, the coach advised his ward to start keeping the wickets. The youngster, however, was not interested and resisted the move to the best of his ability. He even stopped coming to the academy. "His father then requested me not to force him to take the dual responsibility as he already was an opener. I promised him that wicketkeeping will be an added advantage and it would help his son to make his way to the state and national teams by 2020."
Despite the assurance, Dhruv remained uninterested but he realised it when he could not make it to the under-14 state team as a batter despite being in the core group of 60 players. "He then started taking wicketkeeping seriously and got a chance in the playing XI as the regular stumper got injured ahead of the final against Madhya Pradesh if I remember correctly. He slammed a ton and then never hesitated from taking up the dual responsibility."
As Parvendra promised, the all-round ability helped Dhruv to make it to the India U-19 squad for the Asia Cup where he led the team to the title in 2019. He was also a part of the India U-19 team that lost the World Cup final to Bangladesh in South Africa.
"Despite scoring 32 off 15 which included three fours and two sixes, he was disappointed as his team lost the contest. I told him not to lose heart as winning and losing are part of the game. He was with the Rajasthan franchise last year but didn't get a game. But this time I am quite sure he will play a lot. I can bet he will be a part of the senior team by 2024/25," signed off the coach, who received a call from Dhruv on Thursday afternoon.Hopefully, the coach's prophecy comes true this time also as it did four years ago.