Why has India picked Dhruv Jurel for first two England Tests?
India announced their squad for the first two Test matches against England at home, starting January 25, on Friday and it had one major surprise as 22-year-old wicketkeeper-batter from Uttar Pradesh, Dhruv Jurel, earned his maiden Test call up.
The move came as a suprise to many as Jurel had never been close to the Test setup and many felt that there were other players like Sarfaraz Khan who deserved the call up more than the youngster. But there are quite a few things that led India to pick Jurel for the first couple of Tests against England.
The first and foremost of these reasons is the absence of Ishan Kishan. The wicketkeeper-batter has been in the news of late for his unavailability since the South Africa tour. Reports say he asked for a break from the BCCI and is yet to make himself available. Even coach Rahul Dravid confirmed the same in the press conference ahead of the series that Kishan still hasn't made himself available and whenever he does, he has to prove himself in domestic cricket first. So, Jurel has been picked majorly as a backup for Kishan.
There are two other wicketkeeper-batters in the squad in KL Rahul and KS Bharat. While Rahul kept wickets in the South Africa series, the selectors are more keen on having Rahul focus on his batting in this format, so Bharat is the only specialist wicket-keeper then and Jurel becomes the backup player for that role in that case.
Dhruv Jurel has an excellent first-class record
Many people are of the opinion that Jurel has been picked on the basis of his fabulous showing in the IPL last year, which is far off from the truth. Jurel did impress in his IPL 2023 stint, scoring 152 runs at an outstanding strike-rate of 172.73, playing a crucial middle-order role for the Rajasthan Royals. However, his selection for this Test series has come on the back of his excellent batting performance in the Ranji Trophy since last seasona and also in the match against South Africa A,
Jurel has already played 15 first-class matches, amassing 790 runs at an average of 46.47, including a century and five fifties. The 22-year-old also played a gritty knock of 69 in the one-off Test against South Africa A in Benoni last month. That caught the attention of the selectors and the Indian team management and led them to place their faith in the youngster for this Test series.
This call up is a big motivation for Jurel at this nascent stage of his career. While he might not be a first-choice player for the two Tests, there is surely a lot he can learn from the senior players and that's why this will be a good experience for him. Moreover, this is a long series and there is no certainty about Kishan yet. Any injury to the first-choice keepers may lead to Jurel's debut, and his recent performances indicate he is ready to step up to the challenge.