England Tests: India's Young Turks who fought from front to ensure series win

These young Indian cricketers who made most of the 2024 England series

From left: Shubman Gill, Yashasvi Jaiswal  and Dhruv Jurel From left: Shubman Gill, Yashasvi Jaiswal and Dhruv Jurel | AFP

India won the Ranchi Test with a day to spare to take an unassailable 3-1 lead over England on Monday. After losing the first Test, Rohit Sharma's men show great quality and determination to thump the visitors. From the Indian perspective, the highlight of the series was the arrival of a few youngsters on the big stage. These youngsters stepped up in the absence of seasoned campaigners like Virat Kohli and Mohammed Shami to ensure Indian glory with a Test to spare.

Here is a closer look at the young Indian cricketers who made most of the 2024 England series.

Yashasvi Jaiswal 

On the second day of the Ranchi Test on Saturday, Yashasvi Jaiswal became only the fifth Indian to score 600 or more runs in a Test series. The left-hander, who made his India debut last year during the tour of the West Indies, achieved the feat when he reached 55 runs in the first innings.

Yashasvi Jaiswal Yashasvi Jaiswal | AFP

On a run-making spree, Jaiswal struck two double hundreds in the second and third Tests against England to join the ranks of Indian legends Sunil Gavaskar, Virat Kohli, Rahul Dravid as well as Dilip Sardesai. He also became the third youngest Indian after Vinod Kambli and Sunil Gavaskar to score a Test double ton.

The back-to-back double hundreds also helped the 22-year-old batter to break into the top 20 of the ICC Test Rankings, Rising 14 spots, he now stands 15th in the batting charts. And needless to say, he is the top scorer of the series so far with 655 runs in eight innings.

At Saurashtra, Jaiswal also entered the record books by hitting the highest number of sixes  -- 12.

Shubman Gill

Shubman Gill had twin challenges to tame when he entered the series -- a barren run that gripped him for nine innings, which was made grimmer when he dropped down to bat at a rather new No. 3 slot at this level.

Three Tests into the series, Gill managed to find some answers scoring 252 runs at 42 with a match-winning 104 at Visakhapatnam and a classy 91 at Rajkot. And as India sealed the series at Ranchi, the gifted 24-year-old added 90 more runs to that tally including an unbeaten 52 runs in the second innings that took India past the winning mark. 

Shubman Gill celebrates his century during the third day of the second Test match between India and England, at VDCA Cricket Stadium, in Visakhapatnam on February 4, 2024 Shubman Gill | PTI

He could not score a fifty in 11 continuous innings, including the Hyderabad Test against England last month (23 and 0 ). But he got back in style at Vizag where he scored his third Test century -- after a gap of 11 months and 12 innings. The century comes at a time when India's top order was shattered in the second innings. Rohit Sharma and in-form Yashasvi Jaiswal couldn't get past 20. Gill bagged his ton in his 132nd delivery in the 52nd over, smashing two sixes and 11 fours.

Dhruv Jurel

Dhruv Jurel's father Nem Chand was a retired Havildar with the armed forces and fought the Kargil war before taking voluntary retirement.

With a sparkly average nearing 47 with the bat, Uttar Pradesh's Jurel became the obvious pick for the wicketkeeper-batter's spot after KS Bharat failed with the bat in Rishabh Pant's absence. 

At Ranchi, the 23-year-old Jurel came into bat with India in a spot of bother at 161 for five. First, he found an able ally in Kuldeep Yadav and added 76 runs for the eighth wicket. Then, in another defiant stand, Jurel stitched 40 runs for the ninth wicket with debutant Akash Deep, quite remarkable for someone playing only his second Test.

wicketkeeper-dhruv-jurel Dhruv Jurel behind the stumps for India | AFP

As he got out, the crowd gave him a standing ovation and even the English cricketers, including his Rajasthan Royals teammate Joe Root, came rushing to congratulate him.

And then in the second innings, the English spinners were dictating terms as India collapsed to 120-5 on the penultimate day of the see-saw contest. Jurel (39*) joined forces with Shubman Gill (52*) to make an unbroken stand of 72 runs to take India to victory. 

Jurel was also terrific with his keeping and impressed everyone with his high overhead takes, as well as the quick reflexes behind the stumps. His catch to dismiss James Anderson, who tried a reverse flick Ravichandran Ashwin, was particularly praiseworthy.

The new wicketkeeper-batter's all-round show prompted Sunil Gavaskar to draw parallels with Mahendra Singh Dhoni. "He is the next MS Dhoni in making," Gavaskar remarked on TV.

Akash Deep

Laduma Devi was busy overseeing the construction of their family house in Baddi village of Bihar's Rohtas district when she received a call from Akash Deep on Thursday. "Ma, I'm making my Test debut tomorrow, you have to come". Hours later, after a gruelling 300km road journey, she was at Ranchi's JSCA stadium, watching with pride and tears in her eyes as head coach Rahul Dravid handed the coveted cap to the pacer.

Akash Deep Akash Deep | AFP

27-year-old Akash Deep bowled a dream opening spell on Test debut, blowing away the England top-three en route to his 3/70. He sent Ben Duckett (11), Ollie Pope (0) and Zak Crawley (42) packing to leave England reeling. "The way he bowled in the first session of the match and to pick up three wickets is commendable. We can only hope to see Akash's career graph to go up from here," former India all-rounder Irfan Pathan said lauding Deep. He dedicated his splendid performance t to his father who - died in 2015

Akash Deep's rise started from UCC as he grabbed 42 wickets in his maiden season in Kolkata Maidan (2017-18). He subsequently got a chance in the CK Nayudu Trophy for Bengal, which went on to win that year. He was also picked as a net bowler for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL that was held in the UAE during the COVID-19 disruption and was eventually signed by RCB.

(Last but not the least) Sarfaraz Khan

At Ranchi, 26-year-old Sarfaraz Khan failed to find the purple patch that he brought out on his debut game at Saurashtra. The Rajkot Test saw him making fluent half-centuries in both innings. While a mix-up with Ravindra Jadeja cost him the wicket in the first innings (62 off 66), he remained unbeaten in the second innings (68 off 72) as India hammered the Three Lions by 434 runs. Sarfaraz blasted 9 boundaries and a sixer in the first innings as Jadeja put anchor at the other end. It was a gritty innings coming from a debutant, but he played like a seasoned campaigner. 

india-s-sarfaraz-khan-in-action Sarfaraz Khan

Aged 12, Sarfaraz Khan scored 439 runs in Haris Shield, Mumbai’s premier school tournament. From the U-19 World Cup to IPL and consistency in the domestic circuits (928 runs in the 2019-20 edition of the Ranji Trophy and 982 in the 2021-22 season), the right-handed batter was doing almost everything right. Yet, the national call remained away from his grasp.

And when the chance finally came, Sarfaraz grabbed it with both hands.  Having received his maiden India call-up earlier in the series, Sarfaraz was in line for debut ever since India lost the services of KL Rahul for this Test and also given that his Mumbai teammate Shreyas Iyer lost his spot and Virat Kohli is unavailable. It was the culmination of over 15 years of hard work that involved playing 500 deliveries every day under the watchful eyes of his zealous father Naushad Khan.

- With PTI inputs

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