Dhruv Jurel scored his maiden fifty in Test cricket in only his second match against England at Ranchi in February. Jurel looked towards the dressing room and quietly celebrated with a salute as India struggled at 254/8 in reply to England’s 353.

For Dhruv Jurel, the salute was meant for his father Nem Chand, a retired Havildar of the Indian Army who had taken part in the 1999 Kargil War.

“The last day, I spoke to him, my father indirectly told me 'ek salute to dikha de (show me the salute once),'” Jurel told the BCCI. “He was a Kargil war veteran so my celebration was for him.”

Jurel made his Test debut in India’s third Test match of the England series at Rajkot and dedicated his Test cap to his father.

“Whenever I feel confused, I will talk to him. He guides me. He is my hero,” Jurel said about his dad, who once wanted Dhruv to take the National Defence Academy (NDA) exam and join the army.

In photo: Dhruv Jurel with his father Nem Chand and mother Rajni Devi

As a child, Dhruv Jurel too wanted to join the army and follow his father in his footsteps but his heart was elsewhere.

“I was preparing for the NDA but I wasn’t able to focus too much,” Jurel told India Today. “But I used to see my father, he was very disciplined in terms of diet, training and all. I learnt a lot from him. He was to leave home at 5 AM and return in the evening. I too became disciplined as a result.

“Dad didn’t want me to become a cricketer as we were from a middle-class family. He wanted me to take a government job to secure the family. I started playing cricket without telling my father. When he found out, he tried to convince me out of it and focus on my studies. Eventually, he got on the same page. There was a time I asked my dad for a bat, and he got me a slogger bat, made of Kashmir willow, somehow or the other,” Jurel recalled his father’s sacrifices.

Dhruv Jurel made his domestic debut for Uttar Pradesh in 2021 in a T20 match in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. He made his First Class in 2022 and his domestic One-Day bow the following year.

Jurel was signed by Rajasthan Royals in the mega auction ahead of the Indian Premier League 2022 season. He made his IPL debut in 2023 and had a breakthrough debut season as a finisher for the Royals, scoring 152 runs from 11 innings at a scintillating strike rate of 172.72.

About a year later, Jurel made his debut for the national side in the Test series against England, much to the pride of his father.

“I served India in the army, and he is playing for India,” Nem Chand said. “I too can salute him.”

In IPL 2024, Dhruv Jurel got the opportunity to celebrate and salute once more after he scored an unbeaten fifty against the Lucknow Super Giants in Lucknow, and guided the team to victory.

“I do it for my father,” Jurel reiterated during the post-match presentation. “I did that in the Test matches also for him. He was on the ground today and that (celebration) was for him.”