Pakistan opener Mohammad Rizwan on Sunday was voted the ICC Men's T20I Cricketer of the Year for 2021. Rizwan, also Pakistan's wicket-keeper, saw off stiff competition from England's Jos Buttler, Sri Lanka's Wanindu Hasaranga and Australia's Mitchell Marsh to grab the award."I had an exceptional year in the shortest format of the game, and I am thankful to all my colleagues and peers for voting me as the ICC Men's T20I Cricketer of the Year. This award gives me further motivation and incentive to do even better in 2022 and beyond for Pakistan so that we can collectively achieve our objective of being the top T20I playing side and in the process enhancing our fan-base," said Rizwan.
Rizwan ruled the roost in 2021 when it came to the shortest format of the game in the international arena. Aggregating a staggering 1326 runs in just 29 matches, Rizwan had an average of 73.66 and a strike-rate of 134.89.Apart from his exploits with the bat, he was as solid as ever behind the stumps, playing a key role in Pakistan's run to the semifinals during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2021, where he ended up as the third-highest run-scorer in the competition."I want to thank all my team-mates and coaching staff who helped me throughout the year by preparing and training me well enough to contribute to Pakistan's successes. As cricket is a team sport, I would like to dedicate this award to my teammates and fans," added Rizwan.He also scored the maiden T20I century of his career against South Africa in Lahore early in the year and ended it continuing his form with a brilliant knock of 87 against West Indies in Karachi.
But his best performance of the year came in Pakistan's opening match in the T20 World Cup against India in Dubai on October 24.Though a chase of 152 looked easy on paper, Pakistan were fighting against history in the opening encounter against India. Against the likes of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Shami, Rizwan along with his skipper Babar Azam ensured that a famous 10-wicket victory was the script to break Pakistan's hoodoo in T20 World Cup matches against India.Rizwan smacked 79 not out off just 55 deliveries, hitting six fours and three sixes. The ease with which he countered the Indian bowling attack was a thing of sheer beauty. He ensured that there were no hiccups in the run-chase as Pakistan galloped towards the target without losing a single wicket to seal a 10-wicket victory.