Making waves at No.3 for India in their first outing at the ICC Women's T20 World Cup, Jemimah Rodrigues’ innings against Pakistan was the culmination of both hard work and learning important lessons about herself and her game.
Coming to the crease with her team at 38/1 in a pursuit of 150, Rodrigues looked cool under pressure, motoring in the middle overs and finishing with 53*(38) in a seven-wicket victory.
Rodrigues’ masterful play with bat in hand matched her sentiments in the build-up to the tournament, sitting down and chatting on the 100% Cricket Podcast.
When asked what she was proud of during her six-year international career thus far, it was the lessons she learned from adversity and working extra hard to break back into the India team after accepting some hard truths.
“I always thought that the mountain top moments are the moments that define you, where everything is going your way, you're getting success you know, and things like that," she said.
“But more important than that, are these varied moments, where things don't go the way you want it to go, everything around you is shaking. And what do you do then?
“The thing about my career, it's not been smooth. It's been a lot of rollercoaster rides. Yes, there have been high moments but at the same time, equally low moments."
After being a somewhat surprising omission from India’s ICC Women's Cricket World Cup 2022 squad in particular, Rodrigues’ comeback is well-documented, to the point where one could almost be excused for forgetting that the top-order batter is still just 22 years of age.
Rodrigues admitted that parts of the half-decade have crawled, leading to plenty of introspection, even going as far as questioning her future in the international game.
“There were so many times I've had doubts, I felt like giving up," Rodrigues said.
“I felt like, 'Okay, it’s the end of the world for me, I don't think I'll even play another game for my country', but it's that time, when you pick yourself up and you learn that, it's not about winning every time. It's about how many times you pick yourself up after the fall that defines you.
“I think that would be one thing I will be proud of. If I could talk to the younger Jemi, I would tell her that I'm really proud of you for all those moments that you picked yourself up from a fall.”
Rodrigues survived a stumping shout on 14 during India’s run chase against Pakistan at Newlands, adding another successful chapter to India’s women over their rivals, passing their opponents with six balls to spare.
Rodrigues had her heart on her sleeve during the chase, fist-pumping vital boundaries in the middle overs, before her late flurry led to a full stretch leap in celebration of the victory.
As Rodrigues built up to the tournament, the right-hander admitted that not only did she have to up her personal game, but to also reach the overall standard of international cricket, which she believes is consistently on the improve.
“Since I started playing, I think women's cricket especially has gone to a whole new level," she added.
“It’s not the same as it was before and all credit goes to the girls and the way we've played all these years, every single team.”
With the quality on the up in the eyes of Rodrigues, it’s meant extra eyeballs and positive attention, but also extra scrutiny.
Rodrigues has come to relish in the discourse, though explains there are still parts of the job those on the outside would struggle to comprehend.
“The way people even talk about, they watch your game, they enjoy watching it. I think that is the biggest change I've seen, people's minds have changed and just enjoying sport," she said.
“I was just sitting down and just watching (at training in the tournament build-up) and I was thinking: what athletes go through, nobody knows. They don't see it as a male sport or female sport, they see it as cricketers playing there, and I think that is the biggest change for me that has happened.
“Nobody knows the mental challenges (players) have. Sometimes there's a failure that happens on the ground, but you have to live with it for so many days.”
In her innings at Cape Town, it looked as if Rodrigues placed the responsibility solely on her shoulders, all while beginning her second chapter of international cricket. With more than a decade in the game still ahead of her, the past, perhaps filled by disappointment, means Rodrigues is in no doubt as to what is central to her, and who she is in an India shirt.
“I want to leave this jersey in a better place and at the same time, cricket is a part of our lives, but what I would like to leave is how I can help someone else," she said.
“Scores and all that come and go, people will forget, but how I make a person feel, how I encourage them and how I believed in them when no one else did, I want to be that person in their lives.”