India vs Barbados, CWG 2022 – Jemimah Rodrigues

Jemimah Rodrigues is a floater. She can bat at number 5 and can certainly do a job at number 3. She is at that stage of her development as a player where the lack of power play is not on her mind because of the belief in her skills and what she offers the team . She seems calmer, which translates into better decision making on the pitch, and has handled her game with a sense of purpose.
This mentality was on display in India’s vital encounter against Barbados when Rodrigues, promoted to No. 3 in the absence of Yastika Bhatia, kept the lineup together even as the big hitters kept going hard. When they fell, Rodrigues rallied around Deepti Sharma in the lower middle order to ensure India reached 162, more than they had hoped at one point.

Rodrigues scored an unbeaten 46-ball 56 – her seventh T20I-fifty – after looking like she would have no more overs for a long time, especially with Deepti taking up much of the offense towards the end. Between overs three and 15, Rodrigues hit only one border. Still, she continued to do the trick by playing the fields skillfully, other than making sure she ran hard whenever possible to squeeze runs.

At no point did she let the dotball pressure mount, although India had lost three big wickets in the meantime – Shafali Verma, Harmanpreet Kaur and Taniya Bhatia. Rodrigues may have had a small part to play in Shafali’s run, completely misjudging a second point. She didn’t let that play into her mind though, even though the wicket that came at that point threatened to take a bit of momentum out of India.

“I’ve definitely worked on my power play, but more than that, I’ve understood my game better,” Rodrigues said after the game. “I’m not a power hitter, I’m a placer. I can hit singles and doubles well; I know how to maneuver the field. I think that’s my strength. My game isn’t very flashy, but also without it, i end up with a good pass rate that’s what i realized i don’t have to be someone else i have to be jemimah rodrigues to score this is what helped me.

“Smriti told me a long time ago in the IPL [Women’s T20 Challenge] in 2019 that you don’t have to be a Harmanpreet Kaur or a Smriti Mandhana, you have to be a Jemimah Rodrigues. I think I understood that role and it helps me. The team has given me a role, if I can play that role, it doesn’t matter how other people look at it. If the dynamics suit our team, we have Shafali, Smriti, Harman, so I just want to play the best role I want to play for the team.”

Rodrigues knew she would bat at number 3 after the game against Pakistan. In the first two games, she had entered number 4 and 5. In a way, returning to number 3 meant returning to a familiar position where she had much of her success as a batter.

“Ramesh [Powar] gentleman had told me after the last game to prepare for No. 3,” she said. “Honestly, when I was preparing, I was ready for both. Even when I was preparing in the nets, with our sidearm specialist, I was prepared for both because you never know, the team could need me anywhere and I should be ready for that. But absolutely, I like No. 3, it’s my position. [I’m] I’m glad I got to play there and contribute to the team, contribute to the plan and it has worked out well for the team.”

It wasn’t until last year that Rodrigues failed to break through in the India XI and was largely considered a one-size-fits-all player, for 50 overs. She then moved on to the Women’s Hundred and emerged as the second-highest run-getter in the league – 249 runs in seven innings with a strike rate of 150.90 – while opening for Northern Superchargers. The stint gave her the faith and confidence she had been lacking until then. It also helped her acclimate to the subsoil in England and fine-tune her playing accordingly. Still, playtime proved elusive when she returned.

“The best of the Hundred was the chance to play in English conditions, which I normally wouldn’t have gotten,” she said. “Not only that, taking in the world’s best bowlers. Every match, even if it’s a domestic match, I think when you go out and score runs, you gain confidence. And that’s what happened to me. I was blessed that “I had a good season there and I just wanted to continue that because the more I play, the better I do and the more I learn. I just want to apply that when I play for India.” “

Rodrigues has channeled the pain of missing the World Cup bus in the most positive way. Without mulling over what could have been, she sought out Rohit Sharma and Rishabh Pant and made adjustments to her game, which she translated into runs when the matches came. At the domestic T20 tournament earlier this year, she made 243 runs in six innings with a stroke rate of 167. She made the top notes at the Women’s T20 Challenge and in the T20Is in Sri Lanka.

That purple spot has now been extended to the Commonwealth Games, which India would hope will continue as they get closer to the medal rounds and beyond.

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