The Indian Premier League has long become a great platform for players to make their mark and a pathway to the Indian team. Now, we have started to see the direct benefits of the infrastructure and training that the IPL franchises provide in players when they turn up for the national team.

India's Yashasvi Jaiswal, left and Dhruv Jurel(AP)
India’s Yashasvi Jaiswal, left and Dhruv Jurel(AP)

The Royals’ High Performance Center in Talegaon, near Nagpur, under their Director of High Performance, Zubin Bharucha, is proving to be a finishing school for RR’s talented players. Yashasvi Jaiswal and Dhruv Jurel are shinning examples of it. The left-hand opener has been the best batter (655 runs at an average of 93.57) on both sides in the ongoing India versus England series while the keeper-batter has made a brilliant start to his career in the two Tests he has played.

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During the modern trend of players preferring being specialist in one format, in the RR model we are seeing the T20 set-up is helping out in their Test game as well.

“The goals came from the players themselves, the hunger, desperation, the dream to play for India was always theirs. That is not the franchise’s dream, not my dream, that came from the player,” says Bharucha.

What they are doing is picking talented, hungry cricketers and helping them reach the next level. Jaiswal has been working at the RR High Performance Centre for the last three years with Bharucha and Jurel since two years.

It’s the execution of their training that has made the difference and transformed them into all-format players.

“How do we execute that to get them to where they need to be and be the best version of themselves? Both (Yashasvi and Jurel) are so different, different characters, different types of players, but there is a template how we are preparing each of these guys which is similar,” explains Bharucha.

The former Mumbai batter says that they are eliminating the fact that they are preparing for T20 or a Test match or One-day. “We are focusing on the quality of the output, the quality of how you hit the shot, where you hit the shot and where you pierce the gap.”

The vision

The vision of the franchise is to produce world-class players and and along the way the players will also help them win the (IPL) championships.

“It has to come from the from the top management in terms of wanting to do all of this, then it comes to the cricket department, headed by Kumar Sangakkara. My job then becomes to execute that vision and then to link the dream of these individuals to that vision and execute it in the way that we have been doing,” says Bharucha.

Basically, the training imparted by the RR academy coach is aimed to get the player to play at a very high level “where the run-rate is very high with reduced risks”. The idea is to get the balance between the two.

“And we are doing that through quality of shot making, with that comes power, control, placement, everything.”

The process

Various training methods are used to prepare the players. One of the toughest is the variable net session. It’s about trying to practice different strokes on alternate deliveries. It is how Jaiswal took down pace great James Anderson at Rajkot in the second innings on Day 4 when he hit him for three sixes to different corners of the ground – first on the leg-side, second over covers and third down the ground. It was his T20 game prowess helping in Test cricket.

“What we do is you have four guys, specialist in throwing each delivery. They are named cut, pull, flick and drive. So one is exclusively on the flick, the other is only throwing for pull, the third is throwing for the cut, the other guy is only throwing for the drive. When these four guys finish their throwing, right behind them staright-away comes the sidearm guys. Side-arm guys are also instructed on where to bowl — one of the off-side, one on the leg-side, one high, one low. After those eight guys, immediately come the four spinners, after that come the four fast bowlers, so in one round there are 16 guys. When you have 16 guys in one round and it is repeated again and again, that is why he can get through 140 overs in four hours,” says Bharucha.

During the break between the second and third Test, Jurel was put through this session at Talegaon, playing 140 overs in four hours.

“What we are doing is bringing in the variability. Earlier how it used to be, “I will play only this bowler, I want only four bowlers for practice. We are flipping the side and saying if we can give you 16 guys and give you 16 different variables in one round of practice, why not test you out everywhere, off, leg, straight ball, bouncer, yorker everything, outswing, inswing.”

The sessions never become easier. If Jaiswal, being an opening batter, is playing then to keep him on his toes, a new ball is introduced every 30-40 minutes.

If Bharucha sees the bowlers are lowering their intensity, then he changes the set of bowlers so the quality is high all the time. There are 30-40 hands who are there to deliver this.

Then, every half an hour, they change the wickets so the batter doesn’t get used to it from turning to bouncy, low, medium bounce, flat tracks.

“So, when Jurel finished that session (before his debut game), my word for that was “monumental session”.

“After that he was there for the next day, and we discussed whether to have another such session and I said no, because we put everything in that four-hour session, blood, sweat, toil. We went from spinning to seaming to flat wicket. To deliver each of these things you need a massive amount of investment. You can’t do this without the whole eco system fully immersed in it. That credit has to go to the RR management. And, I know what is required to execute to get these guys where they need to be.”


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