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Jurel in India's crown

Updated on: 26 February,2024 07:13 AM IST  |  Ranchi
Sandipan Banerjee |

India wicketkeeper-batter’s fighting 90 on crumbling pitch restricts England’s lead to just 46 before spinners Ashwin (5-51), Kuldeep (4-22) strike; hosts 40 for no loss, chasing 192 for victory

Jurel in India's crown

India’s Dhruv Jurel (right) en route his 90 on Day Three of the fourth Test against England in Ranchi yesterday. Pic/AFP

In a compelling day of Test cricket, Team India turned the game on its head on Sunday to put themselves on the driver’s seat for an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match series. From beginning the day 134 runs behind England’s 353 on a tricky pitch with just three wickets in hand in the first innings, Rohit Sharma & Co reached 40 for no loss at stumps, chasing 192 in the fourth innings with two full days remaining.

Playing in his second Test, 23-year-old wicketkeeper-batter Dhruv Jurel was the architect of this turnaround. Batting with the tail, the youngster scored a delicate 90, his maiden Test fifty (and first by a wicketkeeper in this series), to push his side to 300-plus (307 all out) which, at one point on Day 2 evening, with the hosts tottering at 177 for 7, seemed improbable. Jurel, who made his first-class debut for Uttar Pradesh in the 2021-22 domestic season and had only one First-Class hundred (249 as an opener against Nagaland) prior to his Test selection, showed a lot of maturity and plenty of fight during this rescue act. 

India’s Ravichandran Ashwin celebrates the dismissal of Ben Foakes of England in Ranchi yesterday. Pic/Getty Images
India’s Ravichandran Ashwin celebrates the dismissal of Ben Foakes of England in Ranchi yesterday. Pic/Getty Images

On a pitch where batters from both teams found it difficult to judge the bounce, he applied himself quite remarkably. Along with his UP-teammate Kuldeep Yadav he started the fightback in the final hours of the second day and continued in the same vein on a chilly and cloudy Sunday morning. The pair frustrated the English bowlers, who were unable to get any significant purchase out of that Ranchi pitch during the morning session. 

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Kuldeep was playing an ideal second fiddle to Jurel as they put together a valiant 76-run stand for the eighth wicket before James Anderson finally broke through.  Once Kuldeep was castled, Jurel opted to up the ante and regularly cleared the ropes despite Ben Stokes keeping protections at the deep. There was a bit of Rishabh Pant in his shot selections, especially while going after the spinners. Thanks to Jurel, India’s first first-innings deficit was just 46.

‘Had to play straight’

“The wicket had low bounce, so obviously the runs stopped coming from square of the wicket so I felt I had to play straight. The ball was keeping low and I kept it in my subconscious mind that it’s staying low and I have to be ready and play straight. Whatever shot I hit, I hit straight,” said the youngster about his patient 149-ball knock.

Debutant Akash Deep offered decent support to Jurel as did Mohammed Siraj before Tom Hartley produced an absolute beauty to clean him up, 10 runs before what would have been a magnificent hundred.

“I’m not too worried about that century, this is my debut series. I’m desperate to lift the trophy as playing Test cricket was one big dream for me,” said Jurel going on to dedicate his knock to his father Nem Chand, a Kargil veteran. “It [his salute while celebrating his maiden Test fifty] was for my father. He’s a Kargil veteran. Yesterday, we spoke and he indirectly said ‘Son, at least show me a salute’. That’s what I’ve been doing all my growing up years,” he explained. England’s second innings meanwhile, was limited to just 145 with the India’s spinners R Ashwin (5 for 51) and Kuldeep (4 for 22) doing the damage.

Ashwin’s new-ball success

Starting with the new ball, Ashwin dented England early by dismissing Ben Duckett and Ollie Pope off successive deliveries. Zak Crawley (60) fought hard before the off-spinner broke through at the other end, bagging the big fish, Joe Root (11), who remained unbeaten on 122 in the first innings. Kuldeep then inflicted more misery on the visitors by castling Crawley and skipper Stokes before the tea break. 

The pitch also assisted the Indian spinners much more than what was seen in the morning session when England spinners Shoiab Bashir and Harley were bowling. The situation demanded the England lower order to play more aggressively and look for run-scoring opportunities to push the lead beyond the 200-run mark. However, the fightback never came as the likes of Ben Foakes and others allowed the Indian spinners to dictate terms and consequently, became sitting ducks on a crumbling surface.

Brief scores
England 353 & 145 (Z Crawley 60, J Bairstow 30; R Ashwin 5-51, K Yadav 4-22) v India 307 (D Jurel 90, Y Jaiswal 73, S Gill 38; S Bashir 5-119, T Hartley 3-68, J Anderson 2-48) & 40/0

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