The global pandemic novel COVID-19 has brought the entire world into a standstill since long which not only claimed several lives but also postponed all the sporting activities. However, the imposed lockdown break was a ‘blessing in disguise’ for India youngster Jemimah Rodrigues as it helped her to overcome the heart-wrenching defeat that India faced in the ICC T20 World Cup final against Australia in March.

The final of the tournament took place at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and it witnessed a record number of over 84,000 people as well. This was, however, the last women’s international game before the global pandemic COVID-19 put the sporting events on a hold.

“It’s never easy coming back after the World Cup. We were in Australia for more than a month and a half. Also, losing the World Cup was also not easy, both mentally and emotionally,” Jemimah Rodrigues told IANS in an exclusive interview.

Jemimah Rodrigues

Jemimah Rodrigues © Getty Images

“You need some time to recover and get back into the groove. So, the lockdown has been a blessing in disguise to get back to that emotional space that we normally like to be in. However, the break has been there for too long. We can’t just wait to get back on to the field and play cricket,” she said.

Harmanpreet Kaur-led Team India suffered an 85-run defeat in the final. And, Jemimah Rodrigues added that it was the lack of execution that led them to defeat.

The youngster shared, “It was the execution of the plan which according to me led to our defeat. Australia had a plan, they stuck to it, and executed it well. We also had a plan, but the execution couldn’t come from our side. So, I guess we lacked on the execution part.”

She also revealed what she has learned in the past six months, during the COVID-19 imposed break.

“I realised how blessed we are. We travel to places and are playing cricket. But all of a sudden, everything came to a halt and I was able to spend some time with myself and with my family,” she said. “I realised life is more than just cricket. Cricket is a great sport and I love playing it and once I get back to the field, I will surely give my 100 per cent. But cricket is just a part of my life. There are many more things in my life such as family, friends which are equally important,” she expressed.

“During the lockdown, I realised so many people are struggling to get their basic needs fulfilled. However, I was blessed to have a house, a family to be my side to take care of me, had food to eat, and water to drink — small-small things that we often take for granted,” she again added.

COVID-19 has postponed many series, including the ICC Cricket World Cup. It was earlier scheduled to take place in February next year in New Zealand – has been postponed until 2022. And Jemimah Rodrigues believes that the postponement will give them to prepare better for the World Cup.

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“We would have loved to play the World Cup in 2021. But, I guess the postponement has allowed the team to prepare in a better way as we have not played any cricket since the T20 World Cup,” she mentioned.

“We have not practised together as a team. So, if the World Cup would have happened next year, we wouldn’t have that much time to prepare. But now, with the postponement, I guess our team will get more time to play together, practise together, and get back the momentum required to go into a tournament like World Cup,” she emphasized.

Jemimah Rodrigues

Jemimah Rodrigues ©Getty Images

Meanwhile, the mega event is going to be the last for the stalwarts like Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami. And Jemimah feels it would be a fitting tribute if the team can win the trophy for the two veterans who have contributed a lot towards Indian cricket.

“We are enjoying the fruits of what Mithu di and Jhulan di did for Indian cricket. So, definitely it will serve as a motivation,” she said.

However, the players will be seen next in the Women’s T20 Challenge in the first week of November in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). And Jemimah Rodrigues is ready to take on the bowlers as well – who has played 16 ODIs and 44 T20Is for the country so far.

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“As long as I am getting to play cricket, I am okay with it, whether is it’s Big Bash or the women’s T20 Challenge. I believe the BCCI has been putting in a lot of effort to make the women’s T20 challenge take place in the UAE. So, we all are very excited and can’t just wait to enter the field,” she shared.

“There was a time initially when I did feel the pressure after being in the limelight. However, this has been a journey for me to learn and how to not allow these kinds of pressures to affect my game. It happens with every player,” she told.

When she was asked if she would see herself as the captain of the team in future, Jemimah Rodrigues shared her views as well.

“I love captaining the team and I enjoy that pressure of leading the side. I have led my state team [Mumbai] since the age of 17. So, I enjoy that role. However, I will not do something extraordinary to become a captain. I will go with the flow and I suppose, if it has to happen, it will happen,” she concluded.

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