Dhruv Jurel in reckoning for T20 World Cup

Dhruv Jurel (Source: X)

A good IPL with the bat can take Dhruv Jurel to the T20 World Cup, it is learnt. Over three Tests against England, the 23-year-old impressed the selectors and the Indian team management enough to become a serious contender for the wicketkeeper-batsman role at the T20 World Cup, notwithstanding that this is a different format.

Before coming to the Test fold, Jurel, a Rajasthan Royals regular, was considered a T20 specialist. He has a strike rate of 137.07 in this format over 23 games. His seamless transition to Test cricket and especially his ability to handle pressure has been taken note of.

Jurel will barely keep in the IPL. Royals’s first-choice ’keeper is their captain Sanju Samson. But Jurel has given enough proof of his quality with the big gloves in the three Tests, the way he kept against India’s world-class spinners on turning pitches with low and sometimes variable bounce. According to sources, the selectors are convinced with his ability as a gloveman. A big IPL with the bat will certainly make him a top contender to be part of India’s T20 World Cup squad.

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Dhruv Jurel (Source: BCCI)

Jurel bats lower down the order, usually at No. 7, for Royals. He is unlikely to get a chance to post big scores. It’s his impact batting that will be looked into, how he is doing as a finisher. Until the home T20I series against Afghanistan in January this year, Jitesh Sharma was the Indian team management’s preferred choice as wicketkeeper-batter. In nine T20Is so far, the 30-year-old has scored 100 runs at an impressive strike rate of 147.05. However, there’s a school of thought that Jurel’s overall game is better than Jitesh across formats.

Rishabh Pant returning to competitive cricket after a gap of one-and-a-half years is a real shot in the arm for Indian cricket. As BCCI secretary Jay Shah said, the upcoming IPL would be very important for the 26-year-old, who has recovered from a harrowing car accident. “If he can play the T20 World Cup for us, that will be a big thing,” Shah told reporters in Dharamsala, adding: “He is a big asset for us. If he can ’keep, he can play the World Cup. Let’s see how he does in the IPL.”

It’s not easy to come back to the competitive fold after such a long lay-off, without match sharpness. It needs to be seen how Pant’s body reacts to the demands of the IPL. If he is OK, the southpaw walks into the Indian team. Still, another wicketkeeper-batsman, someone who can seriously contribute with the bat, is likely to be picked in a 15-member squad for the T20 World Cup. Jurel, RevSportz understands, is in the list of probables.

Ishan Kishan during a practice session. (Source: X)

Stakes low for Ishan and Sanju

Ishan Kishan is all but out of the reckoning, irrespective of his performance in the IPL. The Jharkhand player seemingly has rubbed the Indian cricket hierarchy the wrong way. He abruptly returned from India’s tour of South Africa in December-January for reasons not related to cricket. Then, he showed defiance and snubbed the Ranji Trophy, ignoring a directive from Shah.

The BCCI secretary had directed every contracted cricketer to play domestic red-ball cricket unless he was with the Indian team or doing his rehab at the National Cricket Academy. Kishan did his training at Kiran More’s academy in Baroda instead, before returning to competitive cricket at the DY Patil T20 Cup. It saw the 25-year-old, along with Shreyas Iyer, lose central contracts.

Sanju Samson vs Afghanistan, 3rd T20I (Source: BCCI)

Samson, Jurel’s skipper at Royals, is himself a T20 World Cup aspirant. However, he has by and large wasted his opportunities. His last T20I was against Afghanistan in Bengaluru in January, where he perished for a golden duck. Before that also, in the T20I series against the West Indies last year, Samson’s batting didn’t inspire much confidence. Since making his debut in 2015, the 29-year-old has played 25 T20Is, scoring 374 runs. And his strike rate, 133, is lower than Jurel and Sharma.

Also, Samson bats at No. 4 or 5 and he is not a back-end finisher, while the team management wants a different profile for the wicketkeeper-batter. The squad for the T20 World Cup will be announced during the IPL, and Jurel could well be on-board the flight to New York.

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