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India's Dhruv Jurel ensured a victory for India with an unbeaten 39 during the fourth day of the fourth Test against England at Ranchi on Tuesday. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: When the India-England Test series began, Dhruv Jurel was not even the first choice wicketkeeper. A miserable show by KS Bharath put Jurel in the playing XI and he grabbed it with both hands. The 23-year-old’s rise from being a debutant in Rajkot to a match-winner in Ranchi in under 10 days is praiseworthy.

Performances of this level obviously leads to comparisons to legends of the game and Jurel was not left behind. He’s now being compared to Mahendra Singh Dhoni and at a venue — Ranchi — which is the home turf to one of India’s greatest captains.

The former India stumper will be the yardstick where every single wicketkeeper will be measured. So will this emerging young wicketkeeper-batter live up to the expectations?

Thinking on his feet

It is still too early to judge the Agra-born cricketer, who caught the selectors’ attention with a half-century against England Lions in January and his ability to soak up the pressure. A true hallmark of Dhoni.

Jurel’s quick-thinking effort to run out England opener Ben Duckett in the second innings of the third Test that gave India a vital breakthrough brings back fresh memories of how Dhoni ran out Mustafizur Rahman to give India the win in the 2016 Twenty20 World Cup against Bangladesh.

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Jurel runs out England opener Ben Duckett during the fourth day of the third Test at Rajkot. Image Credit: AFP

His fine show led to several praises with legendary former Indian skipper Sunil Gavaskar saying “watching the presence-of-mind of Jurel makes me think he’s the next MS Dhoni in the making.”

Battling knock

“Obviously, it is 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 and play … and the longer I play, the better it is,” Jurel told reporters on Sunday.

The youngster on Monday rightly earned the player of the match award for his match-winning efforts in the fourth Test. His battling 90 in the first innings helped the hosts reduce the lead to manageable proportions. But it was his second innings knock that mattered the most. The way the pitch was behaving on the fourth day, England were narrowing in on the series-levelling win.

From 89 for no loss, India were down to 120 for five while chasing a victory target of 192. But an unbroken 72-run partnership for the sixth wicket between Shubman Gill (52 not out) and Jurel (39 not out) gave India a five-wicket win and helped them seal the series with an unassailable 3-1 lead. The inconsequential final Test to be played at Dharamsala from March 7-11.

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India's Shubman Gill and Jurel in all smiles after guiding the hosts to a five-wicket win against England in Ranchi on Monday. Image Credit: AFP

“Whatever the situation demands, I want to do that. In our first innings, I thought the more runs I score, the fewer runs we would have to chase in our second innings. In the first innings, the wickets were falling and I had to bat with the lower-order. But we got partnerships so they deserve some credit,” Jurel told the official broadcasters during the post-match presentation ceremony, a trait again picked up from Dhoni in giving his teammates the due praise they deserve.

“I felt good playing against the England bowlers because I saw them on TV. I focused on seeing the ball and not the bowler. Gill and I were discussing about making small tasks while approaching the chase, in sets of 10 runs each,” he added.

Act of gratitude

His act of gratitude on the field also showed the kind of humble upbringing he has had. The Uttar Pradesh cricketer offered a salute to his father, a war veteran, immediately after reaching his half-century, thanking his parents for their sacrifices in helping him shape as a cricketer.

“It was for my father. He is a war veteran. Yesterday [Saturday] 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 on Sunday.

His battling performance has come in for huge praise from Indian skipper Rohit Sharma, who led a team that was largely filled with youngsters. The absence of stars like Virat Kohli and KL Rahul gave the Men in Blue to test the young talents and none of them disappointed proving that they are ready to carry the team on their shoulders.

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England's Joe Root congratulates Dhruv Jurel after the Indian batter was dismissed for 90 in the first innings. Image Credit: ANI

A motivating show

“It’s been a very hard-fought series, so to come on the right side of it feels very good. It’s a big challenge, but the responses I get from these guys are encouraging. We have to give them the environment they want to be in and they are very clear in what they want to do. Jurel showed composure, calmness and shots all around the wicket. His first-innings 90 was crucial, and again in the second innings along with Gill,” Rohit said.

“It’s always not pleasing when you miss key players, but there’s nothing we can do as a group. To fill their shoes was not easy, but they responded really well. When you make a mark like that, you hold yourself in a good position for a long career. This will motivate them.”

Jurel, whose mother sold her jewellery to buy him his first kit bag, could have gone on to score his century, but a beauty from Tom Hartley pitched on the middle and leg stump and spun sharply to hit the off stump, bringing an end to the Indian innings.

“I am not worried too much about the century, this is my debut series,” Jurel said. “I am desperate to lift the trophy in my hands, to play Test cricket was one big dream for me.”

Dhoni started his career in One-Day Internationals and went on to play Tests, but Jurel is yet to be tested in the shorter formats. However, he has shown enough proof of his big-hitting skills. Hopefully, the Rajasthan Royals player will be the one to watch in the next Indian Premier League, which will provide a complete picture of his prowess.