He might still be very young and early in his professional cricketing career, but 22-year-old Dhruv Jurel seems to have made a name for himself with the Rajasthan Royals (RR) in the recently-concluded Indian Premier League (IPL).
Jurel, vice captain of India’s 2020 U19 World Cup team, has now established himself as a finisher at RR after some vital cameos.
The wicketkeeper-batter came into limelight in the IPL with a 15-ball 32 against Punjab Kings (PBKS), that eventually went in vain, but continued to produce those finishing touches on certain occasions.
Jurel ended his IPL 2023 campaign with not a lot of runs (152 runs from 13 matches), but it is that fearless approach and power-hitting abilities that helped him play the finishers’ role in the Sanju Samson-led side.
Firstpost caught up with the Uttar Pradesh-born cricketer in Dehradun, on the sidelines of the Red Bull Campus Cricket Finals that was held at the Abhimanyu Cricket Academy recently. Dhruv spoke on his conversations with his idol MS Dhoni, his ambitions and several other aspects. Excerpts:
You’ve previously said that MS Dhoni is your cricketing idol. Can you recollect a few conversations with him?
Everybody knows that I have had an interaction with the great MS Dhoni (smiles). I got a chance to meet him last year as well, but I just clicked one photo with him and that’s it. When I met him for the first time last year, he was sitting at a five feet distance from me, and I was staring at him for five minutes. I did not realise, I asked myself ‘am I dreaming or what’? I pinched myself, and said ‘it’s not a dream, he’s sitting in front of you’.
Now, I got a chance to meet him. I was very curious about his mentality. He is so consistent. In India, cricket is a religion. Whenever Dhoni bats, fans go like ‘Dhoni hai, jeetadega’ (Dhoni is there, India will win). I simply asked him ‘how are you so consistent at No 6-7? He told me, ‘just watch the ball, don’t think about pressure. The bowler is also bowling. He is also under pressure. Just take advantage of that. If he’s missing the ball, you’ve got to smack it. Or if he nails the yorker, you can’t do anything about it. You have to be calm, understand the situation and practice accordingly.
You’re batting at No 6-7, you don’t know how the bowler is going to bowl. And people will start looking at you, you’re not performing. No 6-7 is a very thankless position. You have to go and hit, you don’t have to settle. You have a certain amount of balls, so you have to go out there and hit it.
He (Dhoni) told me that if you play like 70-80 innings, you might succeed in 25. People will praise you like the man who is scoring hundreds, the man who is finishing. They praise you for different things, and I felt that this year. If you see, I have never scored a fifty or a hundred. I have scored like quick cameos.
This was your breakout season in the IPL with RR. How did you overcome your nerves?
The amount of work I have done in the last seven or eight months. My confidence came from that. I was not nervous whenever I went out to bat. I was literally, like I had no clue that my heartbeat was normal. Everything was normal. I was just trying to watch the ball and hitting it accordingly. Because, I know, I have done so much of practice, so I had the confidence in me to do it in game situations. I carried that kind of mentality in my first match.
How has RR helped you develop as a cricketer?
I went to the RR trials. They picked me at the 2022 IPL auction. They have worked behind me a lot. Huge credit goes to the RR management. There’s an RR academy in Talegaon (Nagpur). There’s a coach called Zubin Bharucha sir, who has worked a lot on developing me as a cricketer. Most of the credit goes to that man, that’s why I am sitting here as a professional cricketer.
There is competition among wicketkeeper-batters in RR. Sanju Samson, Jos Buttler and then yourself. How do you see that competition?
I played my last season as a batter. There’s no competition. I’m flexible enough to do fielding as well. I don’t look at it as a competition, because I know I can be in the playing XI as a batter too.
How has Jos Buttler’s presence in the RR camp helped?
He is our star batter. He was our Orange Cap holder last year (2022). He’s very consistent. This season, he was not upto the mark. That happens, it’s part and parcel of the game. The way he has played his cricket, his entire career, he has been very appreciated.
Where do you get your fearless approach from?
From my father. He was in the army. All that discipline and respect, that is huge. So, all my motivation comes from him. He keeps pushing me, he used to tell me ‘every time you do this, you have to be perfect in this area’. He has been always straightforward with me.
What is your mental approach towards a game?
Mentally, it comes from the practice. It’s not rocket science. You just have to tell yourself how you’re going to approach the game.
You’re still very young as far as your playing days are concerned. Red Bull campus cricket has offered some promising young talent over the last few years. How does it feel to see these young talents being given an opportunity?
It’s a great thing. To be honest, I do not know much about Red Bull cricket. I have played this two years ago, I know it’s a great platform for all youngsters out there.
What are your ambitions?
To be honest, I haven’t thought about anything much as far as future ambitions are concerned. If I think about something, that could lead to pressure. I have to keep things simple, work on the areas that I need to focus on. I have made a list where I need to improve, so I will work on that and will hope to come back next year.
How do you go about your fitness routine on a regular day?
I wake up around 6 am. I go to the gym, then I come back, sleep, then I have my breakfast. I then go to the academy. I go for long runs, my routines are different day-by day. It’s not fixed like I have to do this, it depends on which tournament is coming and how I have to prepare.