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Jemimah Rodrigues on her 92* in Hundred: 'A much-needed innings for me personally'

India batter reflects on her 43-ball blitz on debut for Northern Superchargers, having suffered a lean patch recently in international cricket

Valkerie Baynes
Valkerie Baynes
'It's good to be back' was Jemimah Rodrigues' over-riding feeling upon delivering Northern Superchargers' victory with an unbeaten 92 in their first match of the Hundred against Welsh Fire at Headingley.
Rodrigues' 43-ball knock contained a staggering 17 fours, struck to all areas of the ground, and one six. But, more importantly, it marked a welcome return to form for the India batter who had gone more than 18 months without an international fifty. It was a fallow patch that led to Rodrigues being overlooked for the last two of five ODIs against South Africa as well as the Test, first ODI and all three T20Is on India's recent tour of England.
"I wasn't getting an opportunity to play," Rodrigues said. "Then when I got that opportunity in the second ODI [against England], I put a lot of pressure on myself. I said, 'I have to go out there, make the most of it and score runs' and all these things.
"I had to stay calm and play my game because I am good enough, that's why I'm playing in the team. That was a slight shift that I got my mindset on, that I don't need to put too much pressure on myself to go out and score or prove myself or make it big.
"I just stuck to my game, kept things simple and played the best cricket I possibly knew. I was batting really well in the nets and that makes a lot of difference because I knew there was nothing wrong with my technique or anything it's just going out there with a new mindset so I just worked from that."
Her two appearances against England leading up to this match yielded scores of just 8 and 4. But it was another innings on English soil that sprang to mind when she reflected on her latest outing for the Superchargers.
Barely a year-and-and-a-half into her international career and at just 18 years of age, Rodrigues produced an unbeaten 112 off just 58 balls for Yorkshire Diamonds to defeat Southern Vipers in the now-defunct Kia Super League in 2019.
"This time in was in a big stadium in front of a crowd and also coming back after a long time so this definitely did feel very special," she said.
"I know these girls, in 2019 they made me feel very comfortable. Coming back here, it really feels like coming home. I love batting in England, the wickets are more batter-friendly than in India.
"It was a very good innings and a much-needed one for me personally... It's just very good being back."
During that 2019 season with the Diamonds, Rodrigues' strength on the on-side came to the fore. On this Saturday afternoon in Leeds, her cover drive was especially productive, as shown when she brought up her fifty with back-to-back fours through the region off Nicole Harvey before making it three boundaries in a row when she deposited the next over wide long-off.
But she also accessed the area through deep third to good effect with consecutive fours off Piepa Cleary.
"Cricket has changed so much that you can't stick to one shot," Rodrigues said. "I've been practising a few shots, playing on the bowler's mind. If you're one step ahead of them it gets easier. When you have to go for it you have to go for it so you take a calculated risk.
"My dad always says it's not how much strength you have or how much power you have it's how you use your brains and how you play out there so that's kind of our game plan."
Rodrigues is one of three overseas players at Northern Superchargers along with South Africa's Laura Wolvaardt and Australian Laura Kimmince and, before the tournament started, Rodrigues said she was relishing the "responsibility" that came with being international players in an overseas league.
"I like that responsibility, when the team wants you to play a certain role and take up that challenge," she said in the lead-up to the Superchargers' opening match. "Sometimes you need that because it's when the best comes out of you. I'm sure Wolfie and Laura Kimmince will feel the same."
Meanwhile, West Indies batter Hayley Matthews, who top-scored for Welsh Fire on Saturday with 30 from 20 balls, acknowledged Rodrigues' contribution in "winning the match for her team".
"Losing's never easy but, at the same time, you have to appreciate how Jemimah batted," Matthews said.
"She played a really, really good innings, and we couldn't really do much.
"Maybe we could have improved the lines we bowled and a couple of misfields. At the same time, you have to give credit to the way she batted."

Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo