Rishabh Pant has won the inaugural ICC Men’s Player of the Month award, finishing ahead of Joe Root and Paul Stirling in the voting.
The Indian wicketkeeper-batsman played two match-defining innings against Australia, scoring 97 in Sydney to ensure a draw before his unbeaten 89* in Brisbane led India to a famous series win.
“Pant's heroics in the final two tests against Australia will be folklore stuff, particularly given the circumstances: the strength of opposition and the extraordinary level of expectations from his fans,” said journalist and ICC Voting Academy member Mona Parthsarathi. “With these knocks Pant has given a life lesson too – that success comes to those who WILL and DARE.”
The 23-year-old wasn’t selected in the India side for the first Test in Australia, but the impact of his January performances impressed, not just for their quality but for their contrasting styles.
“Rishabh played contrasting knocks in tall chases in Sydney and Brisbane,” VVS Laxman told the ICC. “His counter-punching 97 at the SCG raised visions of a successful chase of 407, while at the Gabba, he batted with great maturity and saw the team home against a top-class attack.”
97 – Third Test, Sydney
Pant and Cheteshwar Pujara put on 148 runs for the fourth wicket in a partnership that spanned 45 overs on the final day. The pair's efforts ultimately set up Hanuma Vihari and R Ashwin to play out for a draw, but Pant's 97 also gave India brief hope of an extraordinary run chase, before he fell just short of his hundred.
89* – Fourth Test, Brisbane
With the series on the line at the start of the final day and all results still possible, Pant produced the best innings of his career to win the match and series for India.
Shubman Gill's sparking 91 had given India a strong start, before Pant and the limpet-like Pujara built another lengthy partnership. The draw seemed the likeliest result with India five wickets down with an hour of play remaining, but Pant rapidly accelerated the scoring late on and scored the winning runs with a fittingly extravagant drive to the long-off boundary.
RISHABH PANT.— Cricket on BT Sport (@btsportcricket) January 19, 2021
INDIA WIN THE TEST.
INDIA WIN THE SERIES.
TEST CRICKET IS EVERYTHING. pic.twitter.com/Q9ilcdAQ57
"For a player who was under so much pressure, January 2021 will always bring sweet memories, and perhaps remind Rishabh Pant of a turning point in his career," ICC Voting Academy member Mohammad Isam said.
How the ICC Player of the Month voting works
The three nominees were shortlisted based on their on-field performances and overall achievements during the period of that month (the first to the last day of each calendar month).
The shortlist was then voted on by the independent ICC Voting Academy* and fans around the world. The ICC Voting Academy comprises prominent members of the cricket family including senior journalists, former players, broadcasters, and some members of the ICC Hall of Fame.
The Voting Academy submitted their votes by email and retained a 90% share of the vote. Additionally, fans registered with the ICC were able to vote via the ICC website once the shortlisted players were announced and had a 10% share of the vote.
ICC Voting Academy for ICC Player of the Month January 2021:
Afghanistan: Hameed Qayoomi and Javed Hamim, Australia: Adam Collins and Lisa Sthalekar, Bangladesh: Tarek Mahmoud and Mohammad Isam, England: Kalika Mehta and Claire Taylor, Ireland: Ian Callender and Isobel Joyce, India: Mona Parthsarathi and VVS Laxman, New Zealand: Mark Geenty and John Wright, Pakistan: Sohail Imran and Ramiz Raja, South Africa: Firdose Moonda and Jonty Rhodes, Sri Lanka: Champika Fernando and Russel Arnold, West Indies: Ian Bishop and Andy Roberts, Zimbabwe: Tristan Holme and Mpumelelo Mbangwa, Others: AKS Satish and Preston Mommsen
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