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“I was the first person Rinku Singh called after hitting 5 consecutive sixes in the IPL”: Dhruv Jurel | Cricket News


NEW DELHI: Kolkata Knight Riders batting sensation Rinku Singh etched his name in the record books after hammering five sixes in a row to pull off a heist against Gujarat Titans in IPL 2023. Needing 29 off the final over, while chasing a mammoth 205 against 2022 champions Gujarat Titans, Rinku’s pyrotechnics gave KKR an unbelievable win.
After the win, Rinku, who looked elated and was thronged by his teammates in front of dejected GT players, went back to his hotel room after the match and made a call to his best friend and domestic cricket roommate – Dhruv Jurel.
A Kargil war veteran’s son, Jurel, who represented Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2023, spoke to TimesofIndia.com in an exclusive interview and discussed his IPL 2023 experience, meeting ‘idol’ MS Dhoni, Rinku’s blitz, and much more…


I was the first person Rinku Singh called after hitting 5 consecutive sixes: Dhruv Jurel

What was the learning curve like for you at the Rajasthan Royals during IPL 2023?
It was really amazing. This was the second time (playing in the IPL). I learnt a lot. From sharing the dressing room with big players to going out to the middle as an impact player, this edition taught me a lot. I am quite happy with my performance and looking forward to doing much better next year.

Image credit: BCCI/IPL
Sharing the dressing room with legends like Joe Root, Jos Buttler, Shimron Hetmyer, Sanju bhai (Sanju Samson), Ashwin, Yuzi bhai (Yuzvendra Chahal) was a big thing. I learned a lot from them. They have played a huge role in my career. As a player, I want to learn something every day. I want to grow as a cricketer. They have taught me a lot of things apart from cricket.
You are the son of a Kargil war veteran. Was it easy to choose cricket as a career option?
They (the family) never supported me in cricket. My father wanted my future to be secure. He always pushed me to join the Indian Army. He said you have to join the Army and serve the nation and this job will secure your life. But I wanted to play cricket and I was confident that I could do well.

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When I was in the eighth standard, I went to attend a summer camp with a friend of mine. We went to a nearby sports complex, bought a form, and ticked the swimming section. But when I entered the complex, I saw a group of boys, wearing jerseys and hitting a cricket ball. One of their batsmen was hitting shots really well. That’s what fascinated me. I decided to go for cricket, not swimming. This wasn’t easy in the beginning but when I started doing well, then my father started supporting me. That’s how my cricket journey started.
You were the vice-captain of India’s Under-19 World Cup team in 2020. Apart from you players like Tilak Varma, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Ravi Bishnoi, and captain Priyam Garg were also part of that squad. You guys have all come a long way since then…
We had a good bunch of boys. Among them, seven are playing in the IPL right now. Priyam bhai is from Uttar Pradesh and we share a dressing room together. Priyam was my senior. He is from Meerut and I am from Agra. I am his fan. I have seen him scoring big runs. He scored double centuries too (in domestic cricket).

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Tilak Varma is insanely good. He is such a good cricketer. He was known to be a red ball cricketer but the way he has evolved as an all-format player is incredible. He has become a vital cog in the Mumbai Indians’ set up.
The same is true for Yashasvi Jaiswal and Ravi Bishnoi. We were a squad of 15 members and they all deserve to be in an IPL franchise. I am sure with time the others will also make the cut.
What was the experience of meeting your ‘idol’ MS Dhoni like?
When we were playing our first match against CSK this year, I went to MS Dhoni and asked him one question – “Sir, how is it that you come in at 6 or 7 to bat and are always very consistent?”.
Dhoni replied in the simplest way, saying – ‘if you come in to bat at 6 or 7, you have no idea how the pitch is going to behave, which bowler will come to bowl, what pace he will be bowling at, what will be his variations, etc. You have to come out and start hitting the ball. It is a very thankless job. You need to be consistent. People know that there are a certain number of balls left and you have to try and score big off every single delivery. If you don’t, then people will start criticising you for not scoring runs. You need to shut out that noise. You have to practice like that. You know you have 2 overs or 3 overs in hand and sometimes just a few deliveries. You just have to go and hit every single ball and score. You have to practice like that.’

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He asked me to stick to my game plan and not to doubt myself. He said – ‘make a plan and execute it. If you are not able to execute it then go out with the same plan again and try and execute it again.’
We saw mind-boggling cricketing shots played by you in the IPL this time…
I practiced those shots a lot. There were two shots On my checklist – reverse sweep and lap shot. I had to get some stitches as well for injuries sustained while practicing these shots.
You have played a lot of cricket alongside Rinku Singh for Uttar Pradesh in domestic cricket. Your take on him…
He is Lord Rinku (laughs). He is a very nice and humble person. He is my roommate too. When he hit five sixes (vs Gujarat Titans in IPL 2023), the first person he called was me. He called and asked ‘kaisa laga? bata na kaisa laga?‘ (Did you like my innings? Tell me what you felt). He then asked – ‘Mere baare mein baat chal rahi thi kya‘? (Were people talking about me?) I said – ‘whatever you did today, I don’t think anyone will be able to do this again’. He is such a good person. Very humble, very down to earth and a simple person.

He often says – ‘there is no substitute for hard work’ – and it is the only thing that will push him forward. We have shared rooms and batting creases since our childhood. He is from Aligarh and I am from Agra. The two places are close to each other. He is a hard-working cricketer.
Players from the Under-19 World Cup teams, including Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif, and many more have gone on to represent the senior India men’s team. How would you assess your chances of playing for India in the future?
To play at a higher level (senior team), you have to perform everywhere and consistently. This is the kind of motivation and mentality I am carrying right now. I keep telling myself – ‘no matter what the conditions, situation or format, I need to perform’. I don’t want to be classified as a red-ball or white-ball cricketer. I want to perform everywhere. I have made certain notes and I keep reading those and motivating myself.
Can Sanju Samson, your skipper at Rajasthan Royals be called another ‘Captain Cool’?
He (Sanju) is a fun guy. When I talk to him, it doesn’t feel like I am talking to the captain of RR or a person with a lot of experience. He says – ‘ae kar na aaraam se jo tujhe karna hai. Chill maar ke kar jo karna hai‘ (Do whatever you need to calmly). He is very chilled out. He says – ‘go and play and I am 100 percent there for you.’ That’s the kind of motivation and support he gives the juniors. He gives us a sense of security. Zubin sir, Sanga sir, Yagnik sir, and everyone there, all are very supportive and helpful.

Image credit: BCCI/IPL
What was the atmosphere like in the RR dressing room when the doors to the IPL 2023 playoffs were closed on the team?
It was a morale shattering moment for us. We played really well in the first half of the tournament, really well. We felt bad that we couldn’t make it to the top four. That’s the beauty of the game. You gain experience and move on. I am sure we will come back stronger next season. When I was leaving, Jos Buttler praised me and said – ‘you played really well this season, try to carry this forward’. Those were really big and encouraging words from him.
Who is the most fun living and jovial and also the most serious individual in the RR dressing room?
I would pick Navdeep Saini as the funniest person. He speaks really well. He mixes Haryanvi and Hindi together and that makes all of us laugh. He is a fun guy. I would pick Sangakkara sir as the most serious person in our set-up.

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