By Niharika Raina
New Delhi, March 4 (SocialNews.XYZ) With Gujarat Giants all set to kickstart the inaugural Women's Premier League (WPL) against Mumbai Indians at DY Patil Stadium on Saturday, young pace all-rounder Hurley Gala is raring to go in what she calls is a 'very good opportunity'.
But less than two months ago, there was another very good opportunity that had been taken away from Hurley's hands. In January 2023, a laceration on her thumb ruled her out of India's victorious U19 Women's T20 World Cup campaign, a development which she admitted was very difficult for her to process.
"I am very excited to be a part of first-ever Women's Premier League and also for the games which are going to come up. To be in the Gujarat Giants team, it is a very big thing for me. I am also happy that being a Gujarati, I am in this team. It's a very good opportunity for youngsters like us that a very big platform like WPL is given."
"When I was ruled out of World Cup (U19 Women's T20 World Cup) in South Africa, that was a very difficult part for me. But then I knew I will come back and now I am back stronger by practising hard," said Hurley to IANS in an exclusive chat facilitated by the franchise.
Before the World Cup setback, Hurley, 16, had picked seven wickets in four matches against New Zealand Development team and had a strike-rate above 140 through middle-order cameos.
Her introduction to cricket was just coincidental; starting off as a skater before cricket happened and got her coaching from Ivan Rodrigues, the father of Jemimah Rodrigues, and another Mumbaikar.
"First I used to skate. But then I got an ankle injury and had to be out of it. I then discovered cricket and began playing tennis-ball tournaments. My father then realised that I have the talent in me to play cricket and began playing cricket properly when I was 13."
Such was Hurley's strong quest of regular game time that she had no qualms in switching schools in Mumbai. "I was studying in Utpal Shanghvi Global School. But they didn't have a girls cricket team and I tried making a team of girls for cricket, but it didn't happen. I then moved to St. Columba at Grant Road. There, they had a girls cricket team, and then the school matches happened, which helped me."
When Hurley took to cricket, it was around that time when pace bowling great Jhulan Goswami was still going strong and became her inspirational figure to look up to in the sport.
"I love the way Jhulan Goswami used to bowl as she was a pacer herself - her speed, line and length, the swing and the processes she followed in terms of her workouts and fitness."
When the WPL player auction was on, Hurley remembers watching the auction with her family, a day when her father Tanmay turned a year older too. On being picked by Gujarat for INR 10 lakh, it was double the celebration in her household.
"I was watching the auction with my family members. When my name came, I was eager to know and when I got selected, the atmosphere with my family members was very good. The support from family has been in full. When I got selected for WPL, my sister started crying, even my mum, dad and grandfather."
Having reached this far and overcoming a setback, Hurley is now eager to evolve as a player through her time with the Gujarat side in the WPL. "The practices are going very good. As players, we all are just enjoying whatever it is, like warm-up, cool-down, and the practice nets, apart from cheering up each other."
"As all senior players are there and we are young, they are helping us very well with small points, like what we have to do to be better and how to bowl too. Like, whatever is needed in practice sessions and whatever problems we face in practice sessions, I get to solve it from them (the coaching staff)."
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