Jemimah Rodrigues starred with an unbeaten 27-ball 36 in Dambulla in the first Twenty20 International in India’s tour of Sri Lanka. The 21-year-old did not make the cut in India’s squad to New Zealand for the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup earlier this year but her comeback performance on Thursday provided an exhibit of why she should be considered as a regular starter in white-ball cricket.

Jemimah, who was named player of the match, stated that she persevered through the challenging period after being dropped from the squad, and she worked hard for her return. She also mentioned words of support received from Indian all-format captain Rohit Sharma and wicket-keeper batter Rishabh Pant.

Watch: Rohit Sharma speaks to Jemimah Rodrigues on dealing with a World Cup snub

In the post-match press conference she spoke about how she has learned to deal with the ups and downs.

“I think my height is the same,” she joked when asked about her growth, especially mentally. She then added, “...but the mental thing has changed a lot because in the last few years I think from that Sri Lanka tour, my journey has not been very smooth. It’s been a lot of ups and downs, ups and downs and it’s not easy, but I think I also had this opportunity in the last few months to talk with cricketers like Rohit Sharma, and Rishabh Pant and all.”

As she had said during the recent Women’s T20 Challenge as well, Jemimah reiterated the importance of leaning on a good support system that her family is.

“I think I’ve become more calmer throughout this time. I’ve understood so value of having good relationships, like my family who have been there. You know, you get to know who are actually for you throughout this time and who are not. And also I think this last few months has helped me understand my game even better.

“So I think that is one of the biggest takes I take that you know, I understood my game much better. I think this is what cricket is like, nobody’s journey is smooth. Even with the greatest of greatest cricketers, everyone has ups and downs but I think I think what I’m learning is to, you know, kind of stay neutral. Then how to bounce back each and every time,” she added.

First T20I: Deepti Sharma, Jemimah Rodrigues star as India defeat Sri Lanka by 34 runs

Jemimah, who is flexible with her batting position according to the team’s requirement and can bat both at the top of the order as well as lower down as she did in the first T20I, also spoke about what the innings at Dambulla and the comeback meant to her.

“I am back in the Indian team after more than four or five months so, I was very pumped up today. I just wanted to go out there and give my best. I just wanted to go out there and do my role and make sure the team gets to a good total every time I am batting there,” said the player of the match.

“Anytime you wear this India jersey, I think you are naturally pumped up. This is something that always works for me. So, I love to be that, you know, aggressive and stuff. Because I was a bit nervous coming back after a long time but you know getting that first boundary (late cut) just got me going. So, yeah this actually means a lot to me.”

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The last time Jemimah toured Sri Lanka, she scored 191 runs in five matches and also won the player of the series. She does love playing in Sri Lanka because of the familiarity of conditions and this time around, she has more experience of dealing with it.

“I do (enjoy playing in SL) because these are very similar tracks to back there in Mumbai. You know, in Mumbai you get those turning tracks, slow tracks and I am a good sweeper of the ball because of that,” she added.

“I think my preparation has started long back. It’s not just one month ago, you know, it was way back, I think after being dropped from the World Cup. I think from that time it started and it’s still continuing. To be honest, it’s still continuing because there’s the Commonwealth Games and T20 World Cup and the Asia Cup coming ahead.

“So, a lot of effort and a lot of hard work has gone in which actually nobody knows but it’s good to see that, you know, when you spend the hours over there on the field, in the gym and you come out here and getting the results like even in the domestic, WT20C and coming here, I think it feels great, but it is just the beginning for me. I know much more responsibility for my country and I just want to go out there and do well every time I’m there.”

India play 2 more T20Is in Dambulla and three ODIs in Pallekele on the tour. Jemimah Rodrigues is part of only the T20I squad.

Watch Jemimah Rodrigues’ press conference here.