EXCLUSIVE! Jaiswal–Jurel: How the Rajasthan Royals groomed the duo

Zubin Bharucha, Director of High Performance of the IPL franchise, shares their backroom journey

Zubin Bharucha (centre) puts his arms around Yashasvi Jaiswal (in pads) and Dhruv Jurel (with bat) during the IPL 2022 alongside Kumar Sangakkara (photo: Rajasthan Royals)
Zubin Bharucha (centre) puts his arms around Yashasvi Jaiswal (in pads) and Dhruv Jurel (with bat) during the IPL 2022 alongside Kumar Sangakkara (photo: Rajasthan Royals)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

The impact that Yashasvi Jaiswal and Dhruv Jurel have already made during the ongoing Test series against England—with one match still to go, in Dharamsala—has not stopped creating ripples.

These two young, quality performers are tipped to serve Indian cricket for a long, long time — and a certain Zubin Bharucha cannot keep calm about it.

The Director of High Performance of IPL franchise Rajasthan Royals, who played his part in spotting these two exceptional talents when they were uncut diamonds and helped groom them, credits the ecosystem that the Royals' management has been able to create.

‘’Yes, it’s definitely satisfying to see the duo excel. But, to be honest, our goals are far greater, as we strive to create the ecosystem in our High Performance Centre in Nagpur, where the players can become the best versions of themselves," said Bharucha, a former Mumbai player himself, who has been a part of the Royals’ journey from the first edition of the IPL, in tandem with the legendary Kumar Sangakkara, their Director of Cricket.

"There has been a complete buy-in from our management in terms of providing the infrastructure and personnel to produce world-class cricketers — and we are glad that the formula is starting to work,’’ he added.

Zubin Bharucha (centre) with Jaiswal (in pads) and Sangakkara (photo: Rajasthan Royals)
Zubin Bharucha (centre) with Jaiswal (in pads) and Sangakkara (photo: Rajasthan Royals)
Rajasthan Royals

The role of the scouting teams in the IPL have, over the years, produced some real gems—like the Mumbai Indians unearthing a Jasprit Bumrah and the Pandya brothers and, more recently, Jaiswal and Jurel.

Of course, the likes of Riyan Parag and current captain Sanju Samson are also a part of the Royals' assembly line. The Pink Army—which started their IPL journey with a bang, when Shane Warne led them to their only title in the 2008 edition—still had a long underwhelming phase until they made the play-offs of the 2022 edition.

Asked what was the X-factor that helps him decide to take a chance on someone like a Jaiswal or a Jurel, Bharucha said it was often one stroke which defined them and helped him make up his mind.

‘’For example, when Jurel was referred to us by our former pacer Kartik Tyagi, I didn’t know anything about him as he was not playing anywhere," added Bharucha. "(But) he hit a shot, over extra cover for six, which was extraordinary. In Jaiswal’s case, he walked across the stumps and flicked the first ball over fine leg for a four."

A quintessential backroom boy, the 54-year-old Bharucha was even-handed in highlighting the assemblage of players who have developed out of the Royals' stables, rather than see Jaiswal and Jurel as exceptional: ‘’You see, Riyan Parag is now ready for the leap, Devdutt Padikkal is there, while (Sanju) Samson has been there for a while.’’

That said, Jaiswal is only the third Indian batter to muster 600-plus runs in a Test series after the legendary Sunil Gavaskar and Virat Kohli. He surprised everyone by taking to the longer format like a fish to water, ever since his century on debut against the West Indies last year.

Bharucha attributed his adaptability across formats—certainly, several times in the IPL 2023 even a decorated stroke-maker like Jos Buttler was content to play second fiddle to Jaiswal—to the Royals' training methods.

‘’We don’t practise formats in our centre, but rather focus on the quality of output — look for areas where we can score runs," said Bharucha. "We have set up a process where the batter focuses on hitting the ball where there is no fielder. Our goal is to achieve a high strike rate but with less risk."

When (Yashasvi) Jaiswal started, he didn’t have the slog sweep or the power to hit the left-arm spinner over mid-on. So he was made to work on his reverse sweep.
Zubin Bharucha, Director of High Performance , Rajasthan Royals

"At the end of the day, run scoring remains the prime focus — a half volley, be it in Tests or T20, is meant to be hit,’’ Bharucha added.

As for Dhruv Jurel, despite having barely 15 first-class matches under his belt, the grit and discipline with which he batted for nearly 4 hours to reach his 90 in Ranchi were priceless.

How is such application developed?

‘’If you watch the nets of any team, you will see four pacers and two spinners normally make a round for a batter," said Bharucha.

"But in our centre, we have 16 bowlers making it one round. Four guys come up with throws and a batter has to alternately play the cut, pull, flick and drive — then another group of four come up and the batter has to play the similar range of shots. The routine continues over and over again as the batters try to stay ahead of the game through this drill.’’

Jurel (right) does a strengthening exercise with the help of a Royals staffer (photo: Rajasthan Royals)
Jurel (right) does a strengthening exercise with the help of a Royals staffer (photo: Rajasthan Royals)
Rajasthan Royals

Finally, how does he assess the Royals’ chances in IPL 2024?

‘’It’s a side incredibly rich in talent and ability. The same combination has reached the third year of the cycle — we have one of the best batting units in the league, with an all-round bowling attack," said Bharucha.

"We are keeping our fingers crossed as the championship will be the ultimate reward.’’

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Published: 01 Mar 2024, 11:21 AM