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WPL 2024: Jemimah Rodrigues dazzles with captivating strokeplay in Delhi Capitals’ homecoming

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WPL 2024: Jemimah Rodrigues dazzles with captivating strokeplay in Delhi Capitals’ homecoming

New Delhi, March 6 (IANS) As the Delhi Capitals prepared to play their first match at the Arun Jaitley Stadium, a gust of cold wind swept the area, creating a chilly ambiance. A security personnel thought a windstorm was on its way, but reckoned ‘will it come, that time will tell’.

Unbeknownst to the knowledgeable security personnel, a storm was about to unleash on the stadium, guided by none other than Jemimah Rodrigues, a standout player for the hosts to kick off their home leg in style.

Jemimah was aggressive, yet inventive with her unbeaten 69 off 33 balls, helping Delhi achieve their third 170+ score this season. She hit eight fours and three sixes at a strike-rate of 209, showcasing captivating shots over point and using the 46m off-side boundary effectively.

Jemimah struggled with the bat in Bengaluru before Tuesday’s game, but excelled in entertaining and spreading positivity on the field. In Delhi, she showcased incredible strokeplay with precise timing and placement, using the crease effectively and exhibiting proactive footwork to leave the sparse crowd enthralled.

Before her, captain Meg Lanning graced the 22 yards with her characteristic surgical precision in executing punch, drive, and cut through the off-side square to amass 53 runs off 38 balls, marking her third fifty of the current season.

When the captain got out, Jemimah had already joined Meg at the crease and was at run-a-ball eight. With five overs remaining, Delhi were 123/3 and Jemimah was on 13 off 14 balls. The situation called for someone to step up and deliver powerful hits, ensuring that Delhi set a challenging target that would keep Mumbai under constant pressure in their chase.

That moment arrived in the 16th over when Jemimah took on Shabnim Ismail – slog-sweeping a slower ball over wide of long-on, where the longer boundary was. Two balls later, she backed away to slice over backward point for another four.

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When the shorter boundary became her leg-side in the next over, Jemimah moved across to pull Pooja Vastrakar for a cracking boundary. The pacer tried to correct herself by pitching the next delivery wide, but Jemimah was smart in slicing the drive over backward point for another boundary.

Toying with the field continued for Jemimah when she shuffled across to sweep Saika Ishaque over fine leg and when the spinner pitched on off-stump, the diminutive batter backed away to loft a superb drive over backward point for back-to-back fours.

During the post-match press conference, Jemimah explained that her dominant knock in the T20 match resulted from her well-honed timing and precise ability to find gaps, while acknowledging the influence of Virat Kohli.

“For me I need to put a little more effort than the others to hit those sixes. But I rely a lot on my timing and my bat swing. I think it came off really well, and for me, even if you see my sixes, I don’t try to hit sixes, I try to hit the ball in the gap. If it’s hit too well, it goes for a six.

“That’s something I’ve learnt from Virat Kohli; he does that really well. I really look up to him because we have similar (batting) positions in the Indian team. The way he goes about, he runs well between the wickets; he has intent while batting. Even if he hits sixes, he hits it in the gaps. So if he hits it well, it’s either two runs, four or a six. That’s what I try and imply in my game too,” she said.

But the highlight of Jemimah’s knock came in the 19th over, when she across the crease to slice Nat Sciver-Brunt over backward point. She followed it up by lofting over the bowler’s head and pulling over long leg for back-to-back sixes – first of which got her fifty in 27 balls.

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In the final over, with protection on the leg-side, Jemimah duly slog-swept Hayley Matthews over long-on for six and shuffled across again to sweep past a diving short fine leg for four to be unbeaten on 69 off 33 balls, with 56 runs coming just off her last 19 balls.

While Jemimah’s early encounters with the bat in WPL 2024 were far from perfect, she embraced the opportunity to learn and grow, particularly in remaining authentic to herself. She got support from her DC team-mates and RCB captain Smriti Mandhana, a close friend from the national set-up.

“In the sense that I was trying to play something I was not, just trying to go there and hit because I just wanted to keep the tempo going. Or, you know, sometimes just seeing everyone around you go there and go ‘bang, bang’ and thinking I also need to do it for the team.

“But, I’ve spoken to Arundhati (Reddy, DC teammate) and she helped me a lot. Then, Larris (Laura Harris) in our team, she was actually the one who during that innings when I was sitting down with her she said ‘you have such good hands, you maneuver the field so well. Just stick to that, that’ll help you.

“After that game, Smriti messaged me, ‘just don’t try to be someone else, be a Jemimah Rodrigues and you’ll be fine’. Then after that I spoke to my dad and he insisted the same, that ‘you just play your game, just be positive and just be you. You find the gaps effortlessly. The people who hit up that’s their strength, but no one can pick gaps the way you can pick gaps. So if you just stick to your strengths, it’s going to help you a lot’.

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“Even before walking into the field, Lisa (Keightley, DC assistant coach) came to me and said the same thing. ‘I know, I can understand how it feels when you see everyone around you going a certain way. But just sticking to your strengths is going to help the team and is going to help you because you are a very valuable member for our team’. Those conversations just helped me so much and I’m so blessed to have so many nice people around me to help me and also my DC team,” said Jemimah.

Legendary India fast-bowler Jhulan Goswami, the bowling coach and mentor of Mumbai Indians, conceded her bowlers were caught off guard by Jemimah’s knock.

“Definitely, Jemi (Jemimah) played a quality knock. It was nice watching her bat, but not against us (laughs). Jokes apart, the way she built her innings was a treat to watch. We can learn a lot from her innings. A good day for her and a bad day for our bowlers as we didn’t execute our plans properly.

“In 2017-18, she was a young kid in the team in the Indian team. She is a mature cricketer now. She has a lot of control now and her shot selection has improved. What I enjoy about Jemi is that she is down to earth and likes to learn new things. Good to see her batting in the competition so far,” Jhulan said.

As Jemimah’s realization of thriving in her strengths led to a glittering outcome in Delhi’s triumphant start at home, anticipate her to deliver more impressive performances in T20s while remaining authentic to her style, just like how chilly winds are.

–IANS

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