The International Cricket Council (ICC) has come up with a new concept to reward the cricketers, and at the same time make the competition among players more engaging and lively as well. From January 2021, there will be the ICC Cricketer of the Month award, that will be awarded to the cricketer who has performed exceedingly well during the course of the month in international cricket.
In the month of January, we witnessed some riveting cricketing action. The Indian side stunned Australia in the kangaroos’ backyard to win the Border- Gavaskar trophy, and England inflicted a whitewash on Sri Lanka on Sri Lankan soil. Also, Ireland and Afghanistan played out an exciting three match ODI series that Afghanistan won 3-0. Also, we saw the first Test between South Africa and Pakistan which hosts won it by seven wickets. In the same manner, let’s see top cricketers of the month.
Top 5 cricketers of January 2021
All those who doubted Rishabh Pant’s abilities in Test cricket would have probably got their answers by now. Pant proved to be the warrior for India, who ripped apart a raging Australian bowling attack in the third and fourth Tests.
In the third Test, the Aussies would have had their hearts pounding till Pant was in the middle. The left-hander went after the bowlers, and scored a blazing 118 ball 97 in the second innings. His partnership of 148 runs with Cheteshwar Pujara played a crucial role in India salvaging a draw.
In the fourth and final Test, Pant went one step further and helped India to beat the kangaroos. When he entered to bat in the Indian second innings at Brisbane, India was still 161 runs away from the finish line, and had even lost their skipper Ajinkya Rahane. But then, the 23-year-old scored an unbeaten 89, and also scored the winning runs to help his side to retain the Border-Gavaskar trophy.
If you had seen the 3rd and 4th Test matches that took place between India and Australia this month, you will definitely understand why this man’s name is in the list. Cheteshwar Pujara frustrated the Australian bowlers in both the Tests, proved to be solid, and kept the kangaroos at bay for hours together.
In the first innings of the third Test, India’s No.3 consumed 176 balls to score 50 runs. And then, came his crucial contribution in the second innings. With India set an improbable target of 407 for victory in the second innings, and with them required to bat out around four full sessions for a draw, Pujara stood up to the task. The batting maestro resolutely faced 205 deliveries, scored a vital 77 and helped India to pull off a sensational draw.
In the fourth Test, Pujara’s contributions again proved to be vital. In the second innings of the final Test, India had a target of 328 for victory. Pat Cummins bowled a barrage of bouncers to Pujara and he got hit on literally every part of his upper body. But still, Pujara did not give up. He forged a match winning partnership of 114 runs for the second wicket with Shubman Gill and contributed 56 crucial runs to the total, and helped India to beat the Australians at The Gabba.
Simply put, the arrival of Shubman Gill in the international arena in riveting fashion will possibly be the biggest take away for India from the series against the Aussies. Gill had already made an impression in his debut Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, scoring 45 and 35* respectively, in his first outing in Test cricket.
Gill continued his good work in the New Year’s Test in Sydney, once again slicing through the Australian bowling attack. In the first innings, the opener scored a classy 50 off 101 deliveries. And in the second innings too, Gill got off to a decent start, and scored a sedate 31.
But then, it was his heroics in the second innings of fourth Test that allows him to grab the third spot. The visitors were chasing a daunting target of 328 for victory, and Gill simply decimated the Australian bowling attack. He cut, pulled and drove all the Australian bowlers at The Gabba and scored a match winning 91 to help his country script history. One thing is surely clear. Shubman Gill is indeed the future of Indian cricket.
2. Lasith Embuldeniya
Now, let us travel to the island of Sri Lanka to understand why this man grabs the No.2 spot in our list. Lasith Embuldeniya was possibly the only bright spot in an otherwise dull performance by Sri Lanka against the visiting England side. Even though the Lankan side was whitewashed in the two match Test series, Embuldeniya stood apart.
In the first Test, the left-arm spinner picked up 5 wickets in the match. In the first innings of the first Test, Embuldeniya prized out the England top order, picking up the first three wickets to fall. In the second innings too, Embuldeniya would have sent some jitters in the English camp, when he prized out the openers early, to reduce the visitors to 12/2, even though they were chasing a paltry target of 74.
However, it is his performance in the second Test that is noteworthy. The left-arm spinner picked up a staggering 7 wickets, conceding 137 runs in England’s first innings, to allow his side to take a 37-run lead. But then, Sri Lanka collapsed in stunning fashion in their second innings, and were bowled out for 126. Embuldeniya was the top scorer for his side with the bat in the second innings, contributing 40 runs. In the second innings, he picked up 3 out of the 4 wickets to fall, to complete a match haul of 10 wickets.
There is absolutely no doubt as to who grabs the top spot. This man won the ‘Man of the Match’ award in the first Test, won the ‘Man of the Match’ award in the second Test, and also bagged the ‘Man of the Series’ award as well. In the two match Test series against Sri Lanka, Joe Root scored 426 runs at an average of 106.50, including a double century and a century to help his side to a thumping 2-0 victory.
In the first innings of the first Test, Root contributed 228 runs out of the entire England total of 421. That allowed his side to take a handy 286 run first innings lead and helped England to crush Sri Lanka by 7 wickets. In the second Test too, it was Root who led from the front with the willow.
The England skipper scored a dazzling 186 in the first innings of the second Test, and allowed his side to beat the hosts by 6 wickets in the second rubber as well. With his scintillating scores in the first month of 2021, Root has sent a message to the world that he is indeed England’s talisman with the willow. He will be looking to continue his good run of form in the four match Test series against India that starts next month.
Note: All the stats have been taken from Cricinfo, Cricbuzz and Howstat cricket and have been updated as on January 30th 2021
Source: The source of this content is our cricket news platform Crictracker.
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