Exclusive | Taunts to Claps: Priyanka Bala's journey from rural village of Nadia to WPL

Priyanka Bala, the 28-year-old wicket-keeper batter made her WPL debut for Mumbai Indians against RCB on Tuesday, in Delhi.

author-image
Koushik Biswas
New Update
Exclusive | Taunts to Claps: Priyanka Bala's journey from rural village of Nadia to WPL

Priyanka Bala's journey from rural village of Nadia to WPL: A exclusive story by Sportz Point

Imagine you are a girl born and brought up in a village named Betai in Krishnanagar, West Bengal, nearly 165 km away from Kolkata, running away secretly from your house to play a game of cricket with the boys at the local ground at the age of 5 or 6. Stretch that imagination to an extent that, no one in the village does not like you holding that bat and smashing balls out of the park. Your mother gets taunts from the locals for supporting you and then you lose your father a few years later. Still, you managed to be so focused on your goal that one day those who never believed in you, gathered in front of television sets to clap for you on your Women's Premier League debut.

Sounded surreal or a bit Bollywoodish? Well, individuals who are determined and unstoppable often create stories that writers or scriptwriters cannot author. Priyanka Bala is one such individual who battled against all odds to reach where she is today.

Sportz Point contacted Priyanka's younger brother Prosen to know her story from scratch.

Priyanka's unwavering love and passion for sports began in her childhood, as she watched the local boys play cricket with a leather ball at the adjacent ground. Soon, with all of her insistence, Priyanka managed her mother to buy all her cricket kits and take her to a cricket coaching camp in Tehatta. Despite their financial struggles, her mother made savings to purchase the cricket kits.

Priyanka Bala hitting a boundary in the RCB vs MI WPL 2024 match in Delhi.  Image | WPL/BCCI
Priyanka Bala hitting a boundary in the RCB vs MI WPL 2024 match in Delhi. Image | WPL/BCCI

Priyanka's story began like many others who dared to dream big. Her family had to face trolls and unkind behaviour from society, with her father and mother being targeted whenever they visited local markets or shops since girls playing cricket was still unheard of in their locality.

Priyanka's younger brother, Prosen Bala, still remembers how the trolls used to trigger their father, who would sometimes try to spoil Priyanka's cricket kits in an attempt to make her stop playing and focus on her studies for a better future.

Despite all the odds, Priyanka's mother's continuous support helped her pursue her dream. And then, everything changed for the Bala family. An open camp organized by the Cricket Association of Bengal in Tehatta gave Priyanka the opportunity she had been waiting for.

Despite being only 13-14 at that time, she was scouted from the many boys and girls at the camp, and that meant she would finally be able to go to the City of Joy to fulfil her dreams.

The wicket-keeper batter was noticed by former India Cricketer Mithu Mukherjee who let Priyanka train at her camp in Kolkata. Priyanka started staying at a hostel and soon her power and skill would make her don the Bengal U-19 jersey.

Priyanka Bala during the final of Women's Inter-District T20 Tournament in Kalyani in 2023.  Image | CAB
Priyanka Bala during the final of Women's Inter-District T20 Tournament in Kalyani in 2023. Image | CAB

Priyanka kept on impressing one and all with her power game and ability to score runs in tough conditions. However, the financial conditions of the family compelled her to switch teams and join Indian Railways and provide stability to the family, just after featuring in only one game for the Bengal senior women's team.

Also Read: Women's Cricket: Nadia district women's team beat Howrah to win their 4th consecutive T20 title

When everything looked to be going well for her, her father suffered a brain stroke in 2016. Again stunned by destiny, Priyanka and her family kept on battling through tough times as she became the sole earner for the whole family of four. In 2019, she lost her father and again fortunes cornered her in every way possible.

However, Priyanka Bala was never a girl to give up on her dreams and made sure her bat did justice to all the hard work and sacrifices she and her family made throughout those years.

But, in a railway team full of International stars, Priyanka always had limited opportunities to show her skills and had to wait till the 2020-21 season when she started getting matches for Railways. But, in the quest for more game time, Priyanka appealed for an NOC and joined her home team Bengal back in tshe 2021-22 season.

After a full-fledged season with the Bengal Women's team, Priyanka was bought by the Mumbai Indians franchise in the inaugural WPL auction for INR 20 Lakhs. Though she was not given a single match in their successful first season, Priyanka Bala was retained by Mumbai Indians for the next season of WPL.

Sophie Molineux was stumped by Priyanka Bala in the MI vs RCB WPL 2024 match in Delhi.  Image | WPL/BCCI
Sophie Molineux was stumped by Priyanka Bala in the MI vs RCB WPL 2024 match in Delhi. Image | WPL/BCCI

On Tuesday, against RCB at Arun Jaitley Stadium, she finally made her WPL debut and remained unbeaten on 19 before claiming two dismissals from behind the stump.

Post her WPL debut, Priyanka's family now wants their daughter to don that blue jersey and represent India at the highest level.

"All you see at your home is built by didi (Priyanka). Those people who used to laugh at her and us, now saying someone from the village has done the unthinkable. People in our locality now know us by her name. Like, they would call me as Priyanka's brother or my mother as Priyanka's mother. Now, we just want to see her wear that Indian jersey. That is the dream we have," Prosen, Priyanka Bala's younger brother told Sportz Point.

Follow us on Google News.

Indian Cricket Team Indian Womens Cricket Womens Cricket Sportz Point Speaks Mumbai Indians Wpl Wpl 2024