The International Cricket Council (ICC) has nominated Pakistan men's team batter Mohammad Rizwan and women's team cricketer, Fatima Sana, for Player of the Year awards.
The wicketkeeper-batter is one of the four contestants beside Australia's Mitchel Marsh, England's Jose Buttler, and Sri Lanka's Wanindu Hasaranga for this year's Men's T20I Player of the Year award.
Meanwhile, Sana has been nominated alongside Tammy Beaumont of England, Lizelle Lee of South Africa, and Hayley Matthews of West Indies for the Women's ODI Player of the Year award.
Rizwan, who was not even in the top 150 in the ICC's T20I batting ranking last year, ended 2021 at the third spot. His run continued throughout 2021. In 29 matches, the top-order batter scored record 1,326 runs at an average of 73.66 and a strike rate of 134.89 in 29 matches.
The 29-year-old scored his maiden T20I century against South Africa in Lahore early in the year and ended the year with a brilliant knock of 87 against the West Indies in Karachi.
He was equally good during the T20 World Cup for Pakistan, where he finished as the third-highest run-scorer with 281 runs in just 6 outings.
His memorable innings against India in the WC opener earned special mention by ICC.
“Rizwan smacked 79* in only 55 deliveries, hitting six fours and three sixes. The ease with which he countered the Indian bowling attack was a thing of sheer beauty. He ensured that there were no hiccups in the run-chase as Pakistan galloped towards the target without losing a single wicket to seal a 10-wicket victory,” the ICC said in its press release.
Sana, on the other hand, made her debut in 2019 and had only two ODIs to her credit until the start of this year.
However, during 2021, the 20-year-old took 20 wickets in 13 matches at an average of 24.90 with one five-wicket haul. She also scored 132 runs at an average of 14.66.
The cricket’s governing body praised Sana for showing “tremendous maturity throughout the year,” and termed her “one of the few bright spots for Pakistan.”
“She showed glimpses of her brilliance on the tour of South Africa, where she picked up two wickets in three games and also made handy contributions with the bat. In the second ODI, she picked up a wicket and scored an unbeaten 22 as Pakistan fell narrowly short by 13 runs,” the ICC said in its statement.
The winner of the award will be announced on January 23.
This article was first published in Business Recorder on December 29, 2021.