India women's team cricketer Smriti Mandhana is among four players who have been nominated for the prestigious Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy for ICC Women's Cricketer of the Year 2021 on Friday.
In a field dominated by opening batters, the other three cricketers are England's Tammy Beaumont, Australia's Lizelle Lee and Ireland's Gaby Lewis.
With 855 runs in 22 internationals, at an average of 38.86 with one century and five half-centuries, the year gone by has seen the 25-year-old Mandhana touch new heights despite the country's cricketers enduring difficult circumstance.
In the limited-overs series against South Africa where India won just two of the eight matches at home, Mandhana played a major role in both of the wins. She scored an unbeaten 80 as India chased down 158 in the second ODI that helped them level the series and scored an unbeaten 48 in the win in the final T20I.
Mandhana scored 78 in the first innings of the one-off Test against England that ended in a draw. She played an important knock of 49 in India's only win in the ODI series. Her 15-ball 29 and fifty in the T20I series went in vain, though, as India fell short in both the matches and lost the series 2-1.
Mandhana was in good touch in the series against Australia, starting with the ODI series where she scored 86 in the second ODI. She scored a brilliant century in the only Test, the first of her career, and was awarded the 'Player of the Match'. She scored her second T20I fifty of the year in the final T20I, though India fell short and lost the series 2-0.
During the pink-ball Test Down Under, Mandhana made the game memorable by smashing her maiden century in the longest format of the game. She played her natural game, and scored a run-a-ball half-century but played with caution under the lights.
She was caught when she was 80 but Ellyse Perry had overstepped, giving her a reprieve. She made the most of the lifeline and got her first Test century in style with a boundary. Her innings finally came to an end at 127, after putting India in a strong position. The match ended in a draw and Mandhana was declared the Player of the Match.
With 872 runs in 21 internationals at an average of 48.44, England's Tammy Beaumont finished as the highest run-getter in the calendar year and is a leading contender for the prestigious award. Lizelle Lee of Australia -- with 864 runs in 19 internationals at an average of 57.6 with one century and seven half-centuries -- and Ireland's Gaby Lewis -- 624 runs in 15 internationals at an average of 52 with one century and four half-centuries - are the other contenders.