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WPL 2023: Young Hurley Is Determined To Have a Gala Time With Gujarat Giants

WPL 2023: Gujarat Giants' prodigy, Hurley Gala is determined to capitalize on the WPL pedestal and shoot for stars.

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As she prepared her run-up in the Adani Gujarat Giants' net practice session ahead of Women's Premier League (WPL) 2021, Hurley Gala might have been tempted to pinch herself, just to ensure she was not entrapped in the most far-fetched of dreams. At the other end, ready to face her deliveries were renowned global superstars like Deandra Dottin and Beth Mooney. Scrutinising her every action were the experienced eyes of icons like Rachael Haynes and Mithali Raj.

Yet, it is less than two months ago that she had thought her journey was over, much before it even started.

Four years of incessant toil was snatched away, in the most raucous of manners, when she received the jarring update – the laceration on her thumb was too severe to heal instantaneously, and subsequently, her U19 Women’s T20 World Cup 2023 will come to an unceremonious and abrupt halt.

The consistent performances in the Women’s Senior T20 Trophy, alongside a couple of three-wicket hauls against New Zealand, did not come to her rescue, with the pain barrier being too colossal to climb.

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Recalling the moment, she tells The Quint in an exclusive interview “The first couple of weeks after getting ruled out was very difficult. Just to settle down and grasp the setback was a big challenge.”

Missing out on representing the nation at a World Cup owing to no fault of one's own could deter the determination of the most determined, and here she was, an effervescent young prodigy, still only 16 years of age. Yet, a ‘born athlete’ as she likes to call herself, was simply not ready to let one mere setback affect her aspirations.

If not yet, it became pretty evident now as she quickly followed it up with: “But once that phase was over, I made it a point to bounce back even stronger. So yes, in the long run, it did not matter much.”

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From Skating Rinks to 22 Yards

Hailing from Mumbai, it was only four years ago that Hurley started playing cricket, for she was initially interested not in the business of bat and ball, but of skateboards and rinks.

“I have always been athletic during school days. I was initially into skating, but then suffered an ankle injury and could not continue with it,” recalls Hurley.

Explaining how her entrance into the game was more of a coincidence than anything else, she further adds:

Around that time, we had a tennis-ball tournament going on. Our team needed four runs off the last delivery and I smashed a boundary. My dad was overjoyed, but he also said that he sees talent in me and it should not be wasted, so I enrolled in a coaching camp on the very next day.
Hurley Gala
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Ivan Rodrigues’ Influence

The last-ball four was too conspicuous a sign for Tanmay Gala, Hurley’s father, to ignore, as the pair arrived at the coaching camp of Ivan Rodrigues.

During his team as a coach, Rodrigues has done a commendable job of unearthing and polishing talents, but his most prized success story, in a pleasing way, altered his identity to some extent – the world now knows him as Jemimah Rodrigues’ father.

For Hurley, however, he will always remain the venerated ‘Ivan sir’, without whose guidance she could not have made it to the big leagues. “I’ve been under Ivan’s sir coaching since the start of my journey, so it is because of him that I could reach this stage today. The technical guidance he gave in all fields – batting, bowling and fielding, helped me to a great extent,” she tells us.

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One for the Family, in a One Big Family

Impressive numbers in her maiden Women’s Senior T20 Trophy campaign, wherein she dismissed the likes of Deepti Sharma and Shafali Verma at the age of 14, catapulted Hurley into the shortlist of the national selectors. The blue jersey, one she had dreamt of donning since her first day at Ivan Rodrigues’ academy, soon followed suit.

The U19 team was on a tour when the squad was announced, I remember being in the room with my friend Shabnam Shakil (16-year-old pacer, who will also play for Gujarat Giants). It was such a euphoric moment – I started jumping around, running, dancing, went completely crazy.
Hurley Gala

Once the celebrations with teammates subsided, the update reached the Gala family who was already in an ecstatic mood, celebrating Tanmay’s birthday. Like a quintessential, grand-old Indian joint family, joy reverberated from member to member, just like it did on 13 February – for it was the day the inaugural Women’s Premier League (WPL) auction was held, and more importantly, she was signed by Gujarat Giants for Rs 10 lakh.

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"I live in a joint family, where everyone has been very supportive of my ambitions. Having just returned from practice, I watched the auction alongside my family members. The moment I was sold, everyone in the room got emotional. My sister started crying, and my grandfather, who gave me the tightest of hugs, also had tears in his eyes,” Hurley recalls.

Having made it this far, the player now wants to make the most of the pedestal that WPL is, and eventually, make it to the Indian senior team. “I am ready to contribute to the team’s cause as per my assigned role – whatever the coaches want me to do. The ultimate goal is to win the trophy,” she concludes, before heading out for practice.

The platform has been readied, and Hurley, too, is ready to have a ‘Gala’ time.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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