Babar Azam will be Malan’s opening partner as well as the captain of the ODI team of the year.

With the West Indies-Pakistan ODIs being postponed due to COVID-19, the main teams have finished with their one-day assignments for 2021. With the T20 World Cup being held in the year, the ODI format took a backseat, as most sides focused on the 20-over version. Among the prominent nations, Sri Lanka played 15 matches but won only four. Bangladesh played 12 and won eight, and thus they have heavy representation in the ODI XI of the year. There are a couple of players from South Africa as well, who played 10 games but won only three. England played only nine matches, but their squad wasn’t consistent as it had to be changed due to COVID. India played only six games while Australia and New Zealand featured in half that number. Here’s a look at the ODI team of the year.

Openers: Janneman Malan, Babar Azam (captain)

South African opener Janneman Malan was the second-leading run-scorer in 2021. He smashed 509 runs in eight matches at an average of 84.83 and a strike rate of 92.04. He hit two hundreds and as many fifties during the year. Some of his noteworthy performances were 70 vs Pakistan in Centurion, 177* against Ireland in Dublin and 121 vs Sri Lanka in Colombo.

Babar Azam will be Malan’s opening partner as well as the captain of the ODI team of the year. Azam hit 405 runs in only six matches at an average of 67.50 and a strike rate of 108. The right-hander smacked two hundreds and one fifty. Azam clobbered 103 and 94 against South Africa in Centurion. In Pakistan’s last ODI of the year in Birmingham in July, he scored a brilliant 158 off 139, albeit in a losing cause.

Middle-order: Tamim Iqbal, Fakhar Zaman, Rassie van der Dussen, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk)

Bangladesh’s veteran batter Tamim Iqbal also had a standout year. He was 2021’s third-highest run-getter, smashing 464 runs in 12 matches at an average of 38.66 and a strike rate of 77.33. He hit one hundred and four fifties. He scored consecutive half-centuries against West Indies at the start of the year, hit 78 against New Zealand in Christchurch and ended the year with a century against Zimbabwe at Harare in July.

Pakistan’s Fakhar Zaman also finds a place for collecting 365 runs in six matches at an average of 60.83 and a strike rate of 91.93. The left-hander struck two centuries in consecutive matches – a spectacular 193 off 155 balls vs South Africa in Johannesburg and 101 in Centurion. There was also a 47 against England in Cardiff.

South Africa’s Rassie van der Dussen also finds a place in the ODI team of the year. He hit 342 runs in eight games at an average of 57 and a strike rate of 95.53. van der Dussen scored a brilliant 123 not out off 134 balls in Centurion, which was overshadowed by Azam’s hundred in the same match. He made 60 in the next match in Johannesburg against the same opponents. Another half-century followed against Sri Lanka in Colombo later in the year as van der Dussen left his stamp in 2021.

Bangladesh’s Mushfiqur Rahim will be the wicketkeeper-batter. The veteran cricketer clattered 407 runs in nine ODIs at an average of 58.14 and a strike rate of 76.64. Rahim scored 64 against West Indies in Chattogram and 84 and 125 against Sri Lanka in Dhaka in consecutive matches. 

All-rounder: Wanindu Hasaranga, Shakib Al Hasan

Like in T20Is, Wanindu Hasaranga had a standout year for Sri Lanka in ODIs as well. Interestingly, it was his performance with the bat that outshone his effort with the ball. He scored 356 runs in 14 matches with three fifties. His best of 80* came against West Indies in North Sound, and he followed it up with 74 against Bangladesh in Dhaka. There was also a 54 versus England in Chester-le-Street. While Hasaranga claimed only 12 wickets, he did so at an excellent economy rate of 4.56. 

It is difficult to leave Shakib Al Hasan out of the team of the year. The Bangladesh legend scored 277 runs in nine matches at an average of nearly 40. His best of 96* came against Zimbabwe in Harare, and he also scored a half-century against West Indies in Chattogram. With his left-arm spin, he picked up 17 scalps at a spectacular economy rate of 3.67. Shakib’s best of 5 for 30 was registered against Zimbabwe in Harare.

Bowlers: Dushmantha Chameera, Mustafizur Rahman, Tabraiz Shamsi

Sri Lankan pacer Dushmantha Chameera was 2021’s leading ODI wicket-taker. He played 14 matches and picked up 20 wickets at an average of 29.30 and a wonderful economy rate of 5.51. Chameera stood out with figures of 5 for 16 against Bangladesh in Dhaka in May 2021. He followed it up with 3 for 50 against England in Chester-le-Street. He remained among the wickets in most other games as well.

Left-arm seamer Mustafizur Rahman is another Bangladesh player in the ODI team of the year. The Fizz claimed 18 wickets in 10 matches at an average of 21.55 and an economy rate of 5.03. Rahman claimed three-fors in three of the last four matches Bangladesh played in 2021 – 3 for 34 and 3 for 16 against Sri Lanka in Dhaka and 3 for 57 against Zimbabwe in Harare.

South Africa’s in-form left-arm spinner Tabraiz Shamsi rounds off the ODI team of the year. He claimed 14 scalps in nine matches at an average of 26.35 and an economy rate of 5.07. Shamsi even picked up a five-for as he had figures of 5 for 49 against Sri Lanka in Colombo in September 2021. Shamsi dismissed Dhananjaya de Silva, Charith Asalanka and Dasun Shanaka before adding two tail-end batters. Chasing a D/L target of 265 in 41 overs, Lanka were bowled for 197. 

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