Virat Kohli walking off a cricket pitch

Jaiswal, Sarfaraz and Jurel star for Kohli-absent India

With Virat Kohli out of the series against England due to personal reasons, many England fans believed they might be able to upset India’s 11-year unbeaten streak at home.

However, with the help of Yashasvi Jaiswal and important contributions from Sarfaraz Khan and Dhruv Jurel, India won their 17th consecutive home Test series with one game to spare – and the hosts currently bossing the final Test, currently underway in Dharamshala.

Yashasvi Jaiswal

Jaiswal has taken the cricketing world by storm, becoming the second-fastest Indian to 1000 Test runs in terms of innings.

His two double centuries against England in Visakhapatnam and Rajkot has propelled him to being one of cricket’s brightest talents.

But the story of how this young man has worked his way to become this batting prodigy is a truly remarkable rags-to-riches story.

At just ten years old, Jaiswal moved to Mumbai to pursue his dream of playing cricket.

He was given somewhere to stay initially by a shopkeeper but he had to help him out at the shop.

As Jaiswal was mostly playing cricket, he was not able to contribute so the shopkeeper threw him out.

Left with nowhere to go, Jaiswal moved into a tent at Azad Maidan, a local ground in Mumbai.

There he lived alongside the groundsmen for two years with no electricity and sold pani puri, a deep fried breaded snack, to fund his livelihood.

By chance, Jaiswal was spotted by Jwala Singh, founder of Mumbai cricket club, who saw a great talent in him.

Singh decided to train him and moved Jaiswal in with him and his wife.

The opportunity to showcase his talents was all Jaiswal needed, combining an astonishing 319 runs with a 13-wicket haul in a multi-day game at of the top school-level tournaments in Mumbai.

Jaiswal didn’t look back, scoring loads of runs throughout school level and for Mumbai’s U-16 and U-19 teams.

His tremendous ability was noticed by national selectors and was picked for the Indian U-19 team in 2018.

The faith put in him from Singh paid off as Jaiswal finished as top run scorer in the U-19 Asia Cup and led India to victory with a knock of 85 in the final, earning player of the series.

Topping the run scoring leaderboard again, he earned back-to-back player of the series awards when he scored 400 runs at an average of 133 in the ICC U-19 World Cup 2020.

This led to him being picked by Rajasthan Royals for 2.4 crore (£230,000) in the 2020 Indian Premier League auction.

Going from living in tents to earning that amount of money would make anyone go a little crazy but Jaiswal remained grounded and speaking to The Times of India after that life changing moment, he said: “Money doesn’t matter to me at all. It was just important that I got a chance to play in the IPL. 

“Money is a by-product of your success. If you do well in any field, you will get some reward, but to get a good reward, you need to keep working hard and follow the right processes.”

His years of hard work and impressive performances earned him his first Test cap in July 2023 against the West Indies.

Jaiswal performed incredibly, scoring a huge 171 on debut, becoming the 17th Indian cricketer to score a century on debut.

Since then Jaiswal has been an immovable force at the top of the order, and seems equally immovable for opposition bowlers too.

Sarfaraz Khan

Sarfaraz was trained meticulously by his dad, Naushad Khan, who aspired to represent India but could not make it past playing competitively for Mumbai.

There is no doubt that Naushad would have definitely believed his son would make it, when at just 12-years-old Sarfaraz scored 439 runs off 421 balls in the Harris Shield, breaking Sachin Tendulkar’s record for most runs in an innings.

Sarfaraz made the India U-19 team in 2014 and earned an IPL contract with Royal Challengers Bangalore the following year, before playing his second U-19 World Cup in 2016.

An Indian cap seemed well within his grasp but suddenly issues surrounding his weight and fitness came into question and before he could quash the rumours he got injured and missed a lot of cricket in 2017.

This injury seemed to have pushed Sarfaraz off the radar, as although he kept scoring plenty of runs in the Ranji Trophy, he was not able to produce quality performances in the IPL.

Sarfaraz fought back and scored 928 runs in the 2019/20 Ranji Trophy and 982 runs the following season, and his first class average in 2022 stood at a staggering 82.83, second only to Don Bradman.

Despite his magnificent numbers, he was still overlooked for the national side.

Finally, after years of knocking on the door, Sarfaraz was called up to the India squad in January after injuries to Ravindra Jadeja and KL Rahul in the first Test of this series.

He was made to wait until the third match for his chance, with the returning Jadeja promoted up the order ahead of him, but after being padded up for four hours he finally got to prove his worth.

After an obviously nervous start, Sarfaraz was flying and reached his fifty in just 48 balls.

He looked set for his century but was unfortunately run out on 62 after a mix-up with Jadeja.

Sarfaraz then carried on from where he left off in the second innings finishing with an unbeaten 68 off 72 balls as Jaiswal made 214. 

Together their partnership was worth 172 before India declared on 430/4 and would ultimately go on to win the third Test.

Dhruv Jurel

KL Rahul, Ishan Kishan, and KS Bharat have all been selected as India’s wicketkeeper since Rishabh Pant’s life-threatening car crash in December 2022, but now it’s Jurel’s time in the role and after his performances with the bat, he looks set to stay.

The young wicketkeeper had only played 15 first-class matches before his Test bow, making him one of the least experienced first-class cricketers for India, but has scored 790 runs at 46.47 apiece.

In the third and fourth Test matches against England, Jurel 175 runs across three innings, scoring a crucial 90 in the first innings at Ranchi to deny England a decisive big lead.

It will be interesting to see if Jurel can keep up his form and with a potential central contract on the table he may become a prominent figure in the India team.

Featured Image Credit: It’s No Game on Flickr, CC BY 2.0 Deed

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