Branded Content: Hyundai Exter and The Band of Future Stars of Indian Women’s Cricket

As the second edition of Women's Premier League kicks off, here is an inspirational story of a gang of girls with the backing of an honest coach who together aim to one day be a part of playing for the country.

By Shams Raza Naqvi


4 mins read


Published on February 23, 2024

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  • An all-girls cricket academy in Dharoki, Patiala is run by Gulab Singh Shergill
  • The girls dream of donning the India colours in the future
  • The Hyundai Exter was our trusted partner for this trip to Punjab

Think Outside, think Exter. That’s more than just an advertising tag line. We are in times when kids (and adults!!) all over are hooked to smartphones and gadgets, this tagline of Hyundai’s smallest SUV in the market, inspired us to explore outside the box. So, we set out on a road trip where the destination would be as important as the journey. We looked for a story from our great Indian countryside that would inspire and bring a smile to our faces. The journey led us to a small village called Dharoki in Patiala, Punjab.



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We headed to Patiala from Delhi on a foggy winter morning in the Hyundai Exter


Driving through national and state highways consisted of both good and bad, straight and winding roads. The Hyundai Exter’s ability to adapt to all gave us peace of mind. The 1.2 litre naturally aspirated engine felt spirited enough at speed limits, while the AMT took care of congestion where one would otherwise have spent considerable effort and energy on working the clutch and gearstick. For the record, Exter is the first AMT in India that comes with paddle shifts. Fancy that?


The girls go about the drill with discipline each day


Since driving was a breeze, it looked like we reached Patiala from Delhi in no time. A shorter drive further to Dharoki village welcomed us with a sight that was indeed refreshing. A squad of girls rigourously going about their daily routine at the Gulab Cricket Academy, started by a serving Punjab police constable. Exclusively for girls, this academy aims to provide coaching to prepare them for a proper cricketing future. The founder, Gulab Singh Shergill claims many girls have already been selected for the Patiala Under-15 team to take part in various tournaments.


Shergill converted his own farmland into a cricket ground for the academy


A cricket training facility built on his own farmland in the village, Shergill says initially it was difficult to persuade people in Dharoki to send their daughters for cricket practice. Bizarre as it sounds but Covid-19 onslaught helped in hindsight. As schools shut down and kids spent more time at their homes, parents were more than forthcoming to send their girls to the cricket academy in the hope of keeping them busy. As everyone in the village knew him, Shergill, an ex-budding cricketer himself was able to set the ball rolling. Literally.


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The all-girls academy has members aged between 6 and 15


The academy doesn’t just train girls with playing cricket. The coach along with wife Kamaldeep, takes care of kits as well as dietary requirements of these girls, all of whom are aged between 6 and 15, including his daughter Harsimrat. The girls, who were attending the academy after returning from school, looked eager to perform and prove, pretty much like the small SUV we took along. Hours of practice each day is not easy, especially after getting up early and attending school but these girls were all for it. The energy, the excitement and the spark was all pretty obvious.


The members have collected many memorabilia from international cricketers. 


The girls love watching the game as much as they love playing it. From watching matches on the big screen to heading to the stadium in Mohali, Punjab for attending International as well as IPL games, they do it all with the support of the association. They’ve met many international cricketers some of whom have also gifted them personal items like caps and leather balls and encouragement is always in good supply. But ask them who their favourite cricketer is and almost everyone takes the same name – Harmanpreet Kaur. They resonate with the former India captain, a Punjabi herself who inspires these girls to do better each day.


The girls love watching the game as much as they love playing it.


The practice continues, on school days or on weekdays. It doesn’t matter if it’s peak summers or chilly winters. The drill will continue till Shergill realizes his dream of seeing these girls don the India colours and play for various franchisees in the Women’s Premier League. We can’t help but draw the connection of the coach’s drive to ours. Humble beginnings but with an aim to reach for the stars. The intent is honest and the plan to achieve the final goal is out of the box. That’s a recipe you can’t go wrong with.     

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