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'World Cup snub lowest phase of my life': Jemimah Rodrigues

Rodrigues hit a match-winning 38-ball 53* in a seven-wicket win over Pakistan

jemimah-afp Jemimah Rodrigues celebrates after scoring a half-century during the Group B T20 women's World Cup match against Pakistan in Cape Town | AFP

From touching the lowest ebb after the ODI World Cup snub in New Zealand last year to hitting the winning runs in victory over arch-rivals Pakistan in the T20 global event, Jemimah Rodrigues has done brilliantly to turn the corner in less than 12 months.

Rodrigues, who hit a match-winning 38-ball unbeaten 53 in a seven-wicket win in India's Women's T20 World Cup opener here on Sunday, said at one point of time she even contemplated quitting the game.

"I think this time last year when I was at home and I was not in a good headspace because I was dropped from (India's) 50 World Cup squad. That was the toughest time for me, but there was so many people who helped me throughout this time," Rodrigues said at the post-match press conference.

"Honestly, many a time I had nothing to tell myself. I had, there were so many times I had given up, you know I didn't have the strength to carry (on) and I know a lot of people say you need to back yourself you need to motivate yourself but when a person is going through, they only know what they're going through," an emotional Rodrigues bared her heart during the interaction.

The support system is very important, she said.

"I was blessed that I had people who believed in me and helped me push through that time so I am just grateful to them. It felt like that was that was one of the lowest phase of my life but it turned out to be the reason why I could come here today."

Rodrigues was grateful to her surroundings, especially her personal coach Prasanth Shetty and her father, to help her get out of that difficult phase.

She went back to her basics and played against U-14 and U-19 boys at dusty Azad Maidan rank-turners, a decision which worked wonders.

"Yeah, so I had, like I said I taken a break, then I went back to my coach Prashant Shetty and my dad (Ivan) also, so both of them together. We worked out a plan, like, in a week I had to play two games, like more match time, and the rest I would practice. Sunday was my off-day.

"It is very challenging, in the morning there's so much dew. So, in that condition I had to play under-19 boys. So, putting myself in such situations actually helped me, getting out of my comfort zone," she said.

Playing against U-14 boys, Rodrigues was determined not to lose her wicket.

"I played with under-14 boys. And the pressure of me being an India player playing with under-14 boys if I lose my wicket - it's embarrassing. I believe all these little things just build up and make you the player you are."

Rodrigues still regrets missing last year's 50-over World Cup in New Zealand and the time it took for her to come to terms with the snub.

"I mean, we worked really hard during that time, and I remember that, I was not okay mentally. I had taken a break, because cricket is something I love playing for is something I love to do, love to play and the World Cup is a dream for every cricketer and missing out on that, it took me a while."

Talking about her poor run of form before the match-winning knock against Pakistan, she said: "I think as a batter when you're not getting scores that's like, you know, it's not an enjoyable time definitely, but I was working really hard in the nets I knew I was putting in the efforts.

"What is in my control is my efforts my hard work, and I made sure that every time I was on the field I was doing that I was doing it repeatedly but I was not seeing results, it was very tough. (But) I had to keep pushing myself."

Rodrigues said it special to score runs in front of her parents, who witnessed the Indo-Pak clash from the stands.

"Yeah, this this feels sweet you know, like when it mattered the most it came and like I'm grateful to Jesus and my parents were here today so it's even more special. They've never experienced an India Pakistan game. The first time in the stadium they're experiencing and it was very special for me."

Rodrigues and Richa Ghosh (31 not out off 20) shared an unbeaten 58-run stand for the fourth wicket to take India home while chasing Pakistan's 149 for 4.

"She's (Richa) matured a lot in recent times. Definitely, you know, I love batting with Richa and even the last warm up game actually gave us both a lot of confidence. We knew any target is chaseable as long as we are there," she praised the teenager.

"I was confident throughout even when I think I remember it was 24 balls 41. I knew any target is achievable if we just keep doing the simple things correctly. I took it over by over."

Rodrigues said she can't wait to play in the inaugural Women's Premier League, the auction of which is scheduled on Monday in Mumbai.

"Honestly, I just want to play the WPL. I am not bothered which team is going to pick me and I just want to be a part of it, because it's a dream come true for everyone in India and we waited very long for this and it's finally happening." 

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