ESPNcricinfo Awards

ESPNcricinfo Awards 2021 ODI batting nominees: Tom Latham and Deepak Chahar save the day, Ben Stokes goes on a rampage

Almost hundreds, rearguard fifties, scene-setting top-order knocks - our contenders stepped up and stood out

A captain's hundred by Tom Latham took New Zealand to a series victory over Bangladesh  •  AFP/Getty Images

A captain's hundred by Tom Latham took New Zealand to a series victory over Bangladesh  •  AFP/Getty Images

Tom Latham
110 not out vs Bangladesh
second ODI, Christchurch

New Zealand's stand-in captain, Latham, produced a chasing masterclass to guide his side to a series win. New Zealand were wobbling at 53 for 3 in the chase of 272 when Latham walked in and joined Devon Conway at the crease. At a time when it looked like Bangladesh weren't ready to let go, Latham kept a cool head and soaked up the pressure on his way to a match-turning knock. He received multiple reprieves and patiently played out dots as Bangladesh deployed spin from both ends, and attacked the fast bowlers, particularly Taskin Ahmed. Latham brought up his century off 101 balls in the 47th over and remained unbeaten at the end, hitting a boundary to seal the chase with ten balls remaining.
Ben Stokes
99 vs India
second ODI, Pune

It was the kind of 99 that ranks higher than the two centuries scored in the game. The 2019 world champions had been decimated in the first ODI against India and were staring at a 337 target in the second. Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow gave England a solid start in the chase but it was Stokes who took it to the next level, walking in at No. 3 in the 17th over. He particularly took a shine to India's left-arm spinners Krunal Pandya and Kuldeep Yadav, against whom he scored 84 off 33 balls, including ten sixes. He brought up his fifty off 40 balls, and then kept his foot firmly on the pedal, going 6, 6, 6, 1, 6, 4, 2, 6, 6, 2, 4 in the 11 balls before he fell to Bhuvneshwar Kumar. By then the required rate had dipped below four and England cantered to a win in the 44th over.
Sam Curran
95 not out vs India
third ODI, Pune

England's win in the second match of the series set up a fitting finale for the tour. They were reeling at 168 for 6 chasing 330 in the decider, having just lost the in-form Dawid Malan, but they weren't short on batting depth on the day. Curran joined Moeen Ali at the crease and nearly snatched the game away from India. He made India pay after being dropped on 22, and single-handedly brought the equation down to 23 off 18 balls, clattering 18 runs off Shardul Thakur in the 47th over. Then, forced to turn down singles in the frantic closing overs due to a lack of batting partners at the other end, he could only manage one more boundary in the next three overs and England fell eight short.
Babar Azam
103 vs South Africa
first ODI, Centurion

A dramatic chase was sealed on the last ball of the match, and it was all perfectly set up by Babar. He was circumspect against the tight new-ball bowling, scoring no runs off Kagiso Rabada's first 14 deliveries, but soon appeared in complete control of what seemed a straightforward chase of 274, scoring runs all around the wicket. He played more freely after bringing up his fifty, hitting six fours off Rabada and Lungi Ngidi between the 28th and 30th overs. When he brought up his hundred, he became the fastest man to score 13 ODI centuries, achieving the feat in just 76 innings. A collapse, with four wickets lost for 17 runs, and the game went down to the wire, but Faheem Ashraf kept his cool to hand Pakistan the win.
Fakhar Zaman
193 vs South Africa
second ODI, Johannesburg

While no other Pakistan batter managed more than 31 in this innings, Fakhar blasted a 155-ball 193, the highest score in a chase in ODI history. It did not look like Pakistan would come remotely close to chasing the score down until Fakhar got to his century off 107 balls. He looked sublime even as the rest of the line-up crumbled around him, bringing up his 150 off the next 21 balls. He took Tabraiz Shamsi for five sixes over six deliveries and eventually brought the equation down to 38 off 12 balls, but a tight penultimate over from Andile Phehlukwayo meant Pakistan had left too much for the last six balls. Fakhar ended up running himself out on the first ball of the 50th, and Pakistan eventually fell short by 17 runs.
Mushfiqur Rahim
125 vs Sri Lanka
second ODI, Dhaka

Mushfiqur produced a fine innings to cap Bangladesh's first-ever ODI series win against Sri Lanka. He came to the crease in the second over, after Dushmantha Chameera struck to have Bangladesh at 15 for 2, and produced a masterful innings to pull them out of trouble. He found little help from the rest of the batting line-up and so relied on skilfully rotating the strike, dealing mostly in ones and twos, and hitting just one boundary in his first half-century. He picked up the pace soon after, and hit nine more boundaries by the time he was done with his hundred - his eighth in ODIs. He was caught behind on 125 in the 49th over but ensured Bangladesh had a match-winning total on the board.
Andy Balbirnie
102 vs South Africa
second ODI, Dublin

A captain's innings by Balbirnie brought Ireland their first-ever ODI win against South Africa. Balbirnie promoted himself up the order to open in William Porterfield's absence and looked at ease as he set off confidently against the visitors' full-strength attack. After being saved by a review while batting on 11, he went on to smash Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada for four boundaries in their next ten balls. Balbirnie put on a 70-run stand with Harry Tector and brought up his seventh ODI century off 114 balls. He was out for 102 in the 42nd over but had done enough to lay the platform for Ireland to post 290, their highest total against South Africa, which the home bowlers then defended with ease.
James Vince
102 vs Pakistan
third ODI, Birmingham

"This time last week I didn't expect [to be in the squad] at all," Vince said after his series-winning innings in this match. England were forced to field a second-string team in the ODIs against Pakistan following a spate of Covid cases and Vince made his chance count by playing a sublime innings in response to Pakistan's 331. He brought out some exquisite drives and clean cuts, and eventually raised his century off a boundary through the leg side, off just 91 balls. He holed out four balls later but it was set up well for England, who pulled off the highest successful chase at Edgbaston with two overs to go.
Deepak Chahar
69 not out vs Sri Lanka
second ODI, Colombo

Chahar, who had just one List A half-century to his name before this match, emerged an unlikely hero here with the bat, pulling India out of the jaws of defeat. Chasing 276, India were 116 for 5 when he walked in at No. 8 and produced a gutsy match-winning innings to follow his 2 for 53 with the ball. He rotated the strike beautifully, brought out the big hits with confidence and dealt with Dushmantha Chameera and Wanindu Hasaranga in a calculated manner in the death overs. He received able support at the other end from Bhuvneshwar Kumar and held his nerve till the end, sealing the win with a boundary with five balls to spare.
Janneman Malan
121 vs Sri Lanka
second ODI, Colombo

Malan rose to the occasion in the absence of Quinton de Kock and Temba Bavuma, scoring his third ODI century to make sure South Africa won a rain-reduced match in Colombo. Malan took on the anchor role and played watchfully, sharing two half-century partnerships - 96 for the second wicket with Reeza Hendricks and 86 for the fourth with Heinrich Klaasen. Once settled he unfurled the sweep well to score his boundaries, bringing up a well-constructed ton off 126 balls. Battling cramps as the innings drew to a close, he kept his running to a minimum and began to deal in big hits, scoring two fours and a six off Wanindu Hasaranga in the 44th over. He was dismissed for 121 in the next over, and at that point, he averaged 104.50 after just nine ODIs.

Sruthi Ravindranath is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo