College cricket culture turned Hemalatha’s tide

Hemalatha Dayalan, the 23-year-old all-rounder from Tamil Nadu, has been selected in the Indian women’s cricket team for the ODI series against England next month.

Hemalatha was also included in the India A squad for the tour game against Australia.   -  FACEBOOK/HEMALATHA DAYALAN

Till she was 17, Hemalatha Dayalan did not even have any idea about women’s cricket. Even though she played cricket with her friends in the streets of Alwarthirunagar — in the suburbs of Chennai — she never thought of pursuing it as a career.

But her life changed after she joined the M.O.P Vaishnav College for Women six years ago; following her friends from college, she started attending cricket camps.

All the memories crept in on Monday as Hemalatha was named in India’s women’s squad for the ODI series against England, next month.

“It is a proud moment. I have been waiting for this moment for the last six years,” Hemalatha told Sportstar.

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While her parents were initially not convinced about her playing cricket, a call-up in the Tamil Nadu women’s team in 2016, changed their mind. “My parents wanted me to study hard, earn a degree and then take up a job. That way, I could have earned Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000 per month. But after I played for Tamil Nadu, they supported me wholeheartedly,” she said, adding: “They are fine with me taking decisions now.”

She still remembers the days when she would silently visit the training sessions in college to observe the seniors. “I would initially play with my friends in the street, but my parents did not like that. But after I came to the college, I came to know that there’s a women’s cricket team. I took it seriously, that’s how it all happened,” the all-rounder said.

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Earlier this month, she was included in the India A squad for the tour game against Australia. In three games, she scored 87, and that fetched her a place in the ODI squad.

“This is a very big achievement in my life. I really can’t express my feelings,” the youngster said.

Sharing the dressing room with some of the big names, Hemalatha would be hoping to make it to the playing XI, when the series begins in Nagpur on April 3.