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ESPNcricinfo Awards

ESPNcricinfo Awards 2021 ODI batting winner: Fakhar Zaman goes it alone

The Pakistan opener made history with his one-man onslaught against South Africa, even if in a losing cause

Danyal Rasool
Danyal Rasool
This innings was a one-man assault against the South African bowlers in pursuit of 342. Fakhar's team-mates had long given up on it - only one other Pakistan player crossed 20 - but in the last third of the innings he roared to life.
His innings had begun sedately; he scored just 44 runs off his first 69. But as he watched the other batters come and go and the sun began to set, it appeared to dawn on him that it was down to him.
As the floodlights took hold, Fakhar unleashed a merciless attack. Tabraiz Shamsi took particular punishment, at one point conceding five sixes in six deliveries. By the time the innings ended with a controversial run-out, Fakhar had struck 18 fours and ten sixes in amassing 193 off 155. South Africa only breathed easy after he was run out in the last over, and Pakistan fell short by 17 runs.

Key moment

For Pakistan fans, de Kock was the pantomime villain of the match. In the final over, as Fakhar pushed to complete a second run to keep strike, de Kock gestured towards the bowler's end. Believing the throw was going there, Fakhar slowed down, only to fall short of the crease when a direct hit by Aiden Markram found the stumps at the keeper's end.

The numbers

0 Number of higher individual scores in a chase in ODI history
59.56 Fakhar's percentage contribution to the team's total, the highest in a completed ODI innings for Pakistan.

What they said

"Amazing innings. It got so close to winning that game. I say it's one of the best innings I've seen live because there weren't any partnerships with the top order in there. He did it alone."
- Former Pakistan coach Younis Khan

The closest contenders

Babar Azam
103 vs South Africa, first ODI, Centurion

A sublime knock from a man who appeared to be batting on a different pitch. Babar's run-a-ball hundred made him the fastest man to 13 ODI centuries and set Pakistan up for a nervy final-ball victory.
Andy Balbirnie
102 vs South Africa, second ODI, Dublin

Balbirnie promoted himself up the order in William Porterfield's absence and slid easily into the role against a full-strength South Africa attack, bringing up his seventh ODI century while laying the base for Ireland's first ever win against South Africa.

Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000