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ESPNcricinfo Awards

ESPNcricinfo Awards 2021 Women's batting nominees: Lizelle Lee's career-best knock, Mandhana's pink-ball triumph

Our nominees broke personal and professional batting records across formats this year

Annesha Ghosh
Annesha Ghosh
Shafali Verma fell short of a debut century in her first Test but her 96 set the tone for India's fighting draw  •  Getty Images

Shafali Verma fell short of a debut century in her first Test but her 96 set the tone for India's fighting draw  •  Getty Images

Lizelle Lee
132 not out vs India
third ODI, Lucknow

The crowning achievement in her Player-of-the-Series run against India, Lee's career-best score handed South Africa a 2-1 lead in their five-match series and took her to the top of the ICC ODI rankings. Chasing 249, Lee unleashed her belligerent best, swatting away the poor deliveries served up early by India and later finding the gaps with ease in a well-paced, power-driven innings. She hit 16 fours and two sixes in her 131-ball knock, the fourth-highest score in successful ODI chases. South Africa were five ahead of the DLS par score when rain halted play in the 47th over.
Shafali Verma
96 vs England
only Test, Bristol

In India's return to Tests after nearly seven years, Verma, who had no prior experience of competitive red-ball cricket, aggregated 159 runs across two innings. Ninety-six of those, the highest individual score for an Indian Test debutant, came in response to England's first-innings 396. The 17-year-old showed incredible composure and smarts to stitch together a 167-run opening stand with Smriti Mandhana. Having batted through the afternoon and evening on day two, though, she fell agonisingly short of a hundred. Sneh Rana's rearguard 80 not-out in the second innings quashed any hopes of an England win, but it was Verma's 96 that set the tone for India's resistance.
Heather Knight
101 vs New Zealand
fourth ODI, Derby

The England captain's gritty 107-ball innings, an exemplary display of stamina and strike rotation, steered the side to their highest successful ODI chase. Collecting the bulk of her runs in singles and twos, Knight put on 100 with Amy Jones and 52 with Danni Wyatt, lifting England from 71 for 3 to 237 for 6. Three balls after a desperate dive took her to her second ODI hundred, she was out with eight runs needed off ten balls in the chase of 245, but she had done enough by then for the tail to wrap up a series-sealing three-wicket victory with three balls to spare.
Beth Mooney
125 not out vs India
second ODI, Mackay

Filling in for the designated left-hand opener Rachael Haynes, Mooney, dropped on 1, carried her bat in a humdinger of a 275-run chase. Victory wasn't on the horizon when Australia slumped to 52 for 4 in pursuit of what turned out to be the second-highest ODI target they would successfully chase. Mooney played second fiddle in a 126-run stand with the No. 5, Tahlia McGrath, who delivered perhaps the year's best all-round performance on the night, but shifted gears after McGrath's dismissal. She anchored an action-packed sixth-wicket partnership of 97 with Nicola Carey and Australia heaved past the finish line off the last ball, extending their streak of ODI wins to 26.
Smriti Mandhana
127 vs Australia
only Test, Carrara

Day-night Test cricket was uncharted territory for India. But in their first attempt against Australia, Mandhana's maiden Test hundred set them up for a more than honourable draw, where the hosts were forced to play catch up for the best part of the rain-affected match. She was the aggressor in a 93-run opening stand with Shafali Verma, getting to a 51-ball 50. Reprieved by an Ellyse Perry no-ball, she added 47 to her overnight tally, breaking a 72-year-old record for the highest women's Test score by a visiting player in Australia along the way.

Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ghosh_annesha