Dhruv Jurel and Kuldeep Yadav showed more than skills, heart matters too | Crickit
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Dhruv Jurel, Kuldeep Yadav showed more than skills, heart matters too

Feb 29, 2024 09:09 AM IST

Jurel and Kuldeep showed grit with the bat in the first innings in India's series-clinching win in Ranchi; the struggling Patidar would have imbibed a lesson

One of the most pleasing aspects of the Ranchi Test was the partnership between Dhruv Jurel and Kuldeep Yadav in the first innings. Both represent Uttar Pradesh in domestic cricket and came together with India tottering at 177/7, having lost their last three wickets for 16 runs.

India's Dhruv Jurel and Kuldeep Yadav run between the wickets(ANI )
India's Dhruv Jurel and Kuldeep Yadav run between the wickets(ANI )

All of India's the top order batters were back in the hut, England were still ahead by 176 runs, the wicket was aiding the spinners, the

odd ball was staying low and a huge first innings lead would have meant almost certain defeat. In that moment, when everything seemed to be stacked against them, Jurel and Kuldeep decided to get stuck in; to not give up; to fight.

It may not seem like much, but when one sets out to evaluate players the two most important qualities to consider are skill and heart.

Skill is relatively simple to appraise. A player seems comfortable in the middle, the time they have to play a shot, the footwork, the timing,

the defence, the technique, the power... these are rather obvious. You watch for a bit and you know. But heart, or the lack of it, is more difficult to discern.

Put someone in a spot and see how they react. Do they go purely defensive or lose the desire to fight back? Do they lose the initiative when

the going gets tough? The ones who have heart become stronger through adversity; they raise their level, and in doing so, the signal they send to the opposition is just as important.

At Ranchi, England were crushing it. Ben Stokes was ringing in the fielding changes almost every ball, Shoaib Bashir, a County reject, was

bowling in a manner that would have done R Ashwin proud. But suddenly, their momentum ran into a dead bat.

From Jurel, the resistance was perhaps expected. He was just a Test old but his unruffled nature seemed to suggest that he was one of the

rare few who are born with the intangible quality called heart. Most great players have first-rate fighting hearts. That, perhaps more than their skill alone, made them champions. The 23-year-old from Agra, in that sense, already possesses this rare quality.

From Kuldeep, though, it was unexpected. Not because he can't bat -- he does have a first-class century. But because just a few seasons ago

he seemed to cower when batters went after him. He had skill; he always had that, but heart? That was another matter.

On days when it was all going right, Kuldeep would perform brilliantly. The ball would come out right, the pace would be perfect and the

variations would be unreadable. But the moment the batters would get aggressive, he would go into a shell or try to change things up. It would be clear to everyone watching that he had already lost it in his head.

Still, the left-hander's determination showed that you don't have to be born to it. You can acquire heart too and the process is far tougher

than most will give him credit for. You are going about changing your very nature. It was a lesson for Kuldeep himself -- evidence that he has perhaps found the missing piece in the puzzle -- and also for everyone watching.

Rajat Patidar, sitting in the dressing room after having looked rather lost in the middle, could perhaps take some solace from that stand

too. He started his Test career with a measured 32 but has only added 31 runs to his tally since. A skilled batter, he has looked overawed by the moment for now. Just as Kuldeep once was. But the win in Ranchi and the time spent in the dressing room watching

these two gut it out would have also been an opportunity for Patidar to introspect.

The Jurel-Kuldeep partnership was worth 76 runs and lasted 202 balls with Kuldeep facing 131 balls for his 28 runs and Jurel 71 for 38. It

gave the dressing room hope and showcased the fighting spirit of the team as a whole.

Through the series, India have been in tough spots, but they have stuck to their ways and shown great heart when the chips were down. A spell

by Jasprit Bumrah in the second Test, another by Mohammed Siraj in the third, Yashasvi Jaiswal's double century in the second Test, Gill's grit in the fourth, Ravindra Jadeja's fifer... the list can go on because India owes the series win to these little moments of magic and heart.

In the tougher away tours to follow, it is precisely these moments that will inspire and give the younger lot something to fall back on.

The Next Gen need to create their own memories, and this certainly was one of them.

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