WPL: How Jemimah Rodrigues keeps learning the T20 craft from Virat Kohli

Effervescent Delhi Capitals batter relies on timing and picking up the gaps to make up for her lack of power

Jemimah Rodrigues on reaching 50 off 27 balls against Mumbai Indians on Tuesday. (photo: BCCI)
Jemimah Rodrigues on reaching 50 off 27 balls against Mumbai Indians on Tuesday. (photo: BCCI)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

There is never quite a dull moment with Jemimah Rodrigues, the pint-sized India batter who can be quite a joker in the pack in their dressing room. Plying her trade with Delhi Capitals in the Women’s Premier League (WPL) since the inaugural 2023 season, Jemimah showed she could be destructive in her own way too against Mumbai Indians on their homecoming on Tuesday night, 5 March.

While she is not the most powerful of hitters by her own admission, the 24-year-old from Mumbai revelled in picking up the gaps and timing the ball against a quality Mumbai attack – coasting to her career-best WPL knock of unbeaten 69 off 33 balls which was studded with eight fours and three sixes. If her veteran skipper Meg Lanning set the tempo with a 38-ball 53, Jemimah anchored the innings for a winning total of 192 for four.

A 29-run win over the defending champions in their first-ever match at Arun Jaitley Stadium (the rest of the tournament will be played here) took them to the top of the table with four wins out of five – the crowd support being a bonus for them. ‘’I loved the atmosphere. Finally, we get to play on our home ground because we played in Mumbai (last season), in Bengaluru earlier, but now finally in Delhi,’’ the Player of the Match said later.

‘’The crowd always gets me going, they keep me pumped up and I really take energy from them. Every time I was going to the boundary they were cheering, they were asking for dance moves. It was a nice experience out there,’’ said Jemimah, a widely followed figure on the social media.

A member of India’s T20 team which finished runners-up in the 2020 World T20 to Australia, the middle order batter admitted that being not a natural big hitter of the ball like Meg or some of her colleagues – she focused more on her timing and finding the gaps on the field. ‘’For me I need to put a little more effort than the others to hit those sixes,’’ admitted Jemimah, who operated at a strike rate of 209.09. ‘’But I rely a lot on my timing and my bat swing. I think today 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.

Jemimah had no qualms about admitting that it’s an approach that she kept picking up from the best in business – Virat Kohli. ‘’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 [his game], he runs well between the wickets, [and] 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.’’

The last time she hit three sixes in a T20 was in two domestic games in the 2021-22 season, but on the big stage, it last happened in a T20I against Sri Lanka in 2018. It was hence just the fourth occasion in her T20 career of 201 innings that she had struck three sixes in an innings.

‘’I need to keep improving with the game,’’ she said. ‘’Working on power-hitting was not just now or just before the WPL; it’s been a long process from so many years, and going out there and hitting those sixes time and time again [was great].’’

Delhi Capitals will next square off against UP Warriorz on Friday.

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