On a quiet Friday night in Ahmedabad, in the middle of India A’s tour match against England Lions, Dhruv Jurel’s phone was suddenly inundated with calls, messages and notifications. It took him a while to come to terms with what transpired in those moments, but the realisation soon dawned on him. A right-hand batter and wicketkeeper, former India U19 vice-captain, and Royals' emerging star, 22-year-old Dhruv Chand Jurel from Uttar Pradesh was now going to rub shoulders with the likes of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Royals teammates Ravichandran Ashwin, Yashasvi Jaiswal and Avesh Khan in the same dressing room as part of India’s Test squad for the upcoming England series.



We let Dhruv bask in the sunshine of selection for a bit and then caught up with him to find out more:

Q: What was your first reaction to your India call-up? Where were you? What did your parents say?

A: I was shocked! I was with the India A team, we were playing against the England Lions in a 2-day match. The news broke late in the night and when I found out, I immediately called my father to tell him and his first question was, “Which Indian team? Aren’t you already playing for one of them?”. I said, “The same one in which Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma play”. He couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it too!

Q. Did anyone from the Royals call/text to congratulate you?

A. Yes, I spoke to Zubin Bharucha (Director of High Performance) sir, got messages from Kumar Sangakarra (Director of Cricket) sir, Siddhartha Lahiri (Support Coach & Head of Coaching, RR Academy) sir, Giles Lindsay (Director of Analytics & Technology), Dishant Yagnik (Fielding Coach) sir. They were all very happy for me. Zubin sir has always backed me and I remember him telling me sometime back that my time was coming soon.

I also got a text from Jos (Buttler) bhai, he said “Good to see you in the Indian team, long way to go”.

Q. On hearing about your India call-up, Kumar Sangakkara in a recent interview complimented your work ethic and demeanour. How does it feel to hear such things from a legend of the game?

A. I read it and honestly, I am just grateful to him and the Rajasthan Royals. All the credit goes to the coaches, support staff, my teammates and the whole franchise. It’s because of them that I’ve been able to come this far in my cricketing journey. They picked me from scratch, I was nowhere near getting into the senior Indian squad. The kind of support I’ve gotten from them has helped me gain that much-needed confidence. Even in the season when I played, Sanju (Samson) bhai told me to express myself freely without worrying about anything.

Q. How have the Royals helped you develop as a player in the past year?

A. There are quite a few off-season camps conducted by the franchise especially to support us not just before the IPL, but throughout the year so that we can go out and perform to the best of our abilities in every tournament we play. It has been very helpful for me, especially having Zubin Sir in the nets, constantly guiding me on things that I can improve. My biggest takeaway from every camp has been that there’s always more to achieve, being in a highly competitive setup like that of the Royals. There are times I’ve spent 7-8 hours at a stretch working on a specific skill set in the nets. It helps me stay focused and be well-prepared whenever an opportunity comes knocking.

Q. From playing for India U19 in limited-overs cricket to representing India A and now the senior men’s squad in red-ball cricket, what are your reflections on your journey so far?

A. As part of India U19, I gained massive exposure playing in foreign conditions and different types of pitches. Then with the Royals, I had a good first IPL season. And that was all white-ball cricket. But then came the longer format, and that’s a different ball game altogether. It took me a while to adapt myself to the demands of red-ball cricket. But with so much practice, training and early experience, I am confident that I can play all three formats equally well.

Q. You’ll be joining the Indian Test squad soon. What are your expectations from the series, sharing a dressing room with senior players and your fellow Royals teammates?

A. The most important learning that I’d want to take away from this series is how to develop the mental fortitude that is needed to survive at the highest level. A lot of players get call-ups, but only a few are able to sustain themselves. Once you’re in the public eye on a much bigger stage, you are constantly judged on your performances. So I really want to know how these players deal with bad days, how they face criticism and pressure. I am going to try and absorb it all.

Q. You and Yashasvi Jaiswal have had parallel cricketing journeys, you are teammates at the Royals and now you will be together once again in the Indian Test team’s dressing room. How does it feel and have you two spoken since your the news of your selection?

A. Yashasvi and I go a long way back. We played together in our U19 days and it has always been a lot of fun. I am looking forward to sharing this experience with him too. He was one of the first ones to text me and congratulate, said “Well-deserved bhai, very happy for you”.

Q. Looking back at your journey so far and where you want to go from here, what’s the one mantra that you’ve always stuck by that has helped you grow as a cricketer?

A. I think it’s being stubborn no matter how many obstacles you face. As a kid, I was always stubborn about wanting to play cricket. Studies were important but deep down I knew I wanted to pursue the sport. It took a while to convince my parents, but then my father stepped up to help me.

I studied in an Army school and during winters, the days would be even shorter in the north. So instead of going home after school and changing into my cricket clothes, my father would bring the clothes to the school and I would change them in the washroom, then rush to the academy to play, and finally be back home by night. That way, I would get two extra hours to practise and they used to be extremely helpful for me.



Despite facing financial constraints and my stubbornness, my family always supported me and I’m eternally grateful for that. My father would stitch up torn batting gloves, get a hanging ball in the room for me to keep hitting, my mother would soak almonds for me so that I’d get all the energy I needed. Everyone in my family is a cricket fan so they got behind me whole-heartedly, even if it took some time and convincing.

Q. One thing you hope to achieve in 2024 - any milestones in your mind?

A. Getting better every day. I have benefited a lot from this. I don’t believe in setting too many expectations for myself, I just want to focus on things I can do better. When I started playing, I only wanted to enjoy my cricket so I would like to continue doing the same.


As told to Team Rajasthan Royals