India vice-captain Smriti Mandhana was on Wednesday nominated for the ICC Women's T20I Cricketer of the Year 2022 award for the second straight time. Apart from her, Pakistan's off-spin all-rounder Nida Dar, New Zealand skipper Sophie Devine and Australia's fast-bowling all-rounder Tahlia McGrath have also been nominated for the honour.
Smriti enjoyed a good run in T20Is this year, smashing the quickest fifty by an Indian woman (off just 23 balls), to breaching the 2500-run mark in T20Is, scoring 594 runs in 23 matches, including five half-centuries, in 2022.
The left-handed opener left her mark on the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, the Women's T20 Asia Cup in Bangladesh, and a memorable five-match T20I home series against Australia towards the business end of a fruitful year.
Her most exciting innings of 2022 came in the second T20I of the bilateral series against Australia in December. In front of over 47,000 spectators - the highest turnout for a women's cricket match in India - at the DY Patil stadium in Mumbai, Smriti smacked a 49-ball 79 while chasing Australia's 187/1.
She was India's top-scorer in the match, taking the match to the very end as India set up a Super Over clash after levelling the scores at 187/5. In the Super Over, India made a competitive total of 20/1, out of which Smriti scored 13 off the last three balls.
India then restricted Australia to 16/1, sealing a memorable win in front of a roaring home crowd. Nida, Pakistan's veteran all-rounder, impressed more with the bat this year.
She struck three fifty-plus scores this year: an unbeaten fifty at the Commonwealth Games, similar exploits against India at the Asia Cup, and a well-made 61 at home against Ireland in November.
She was exceptional in the Women's Asia Cup in which she amassed 145 runs in six matches, at a superb average of 72.50, and also claimed eight wickets at a meagre 14.87 runs a piece. Nida's best performance of the year in the shortest format was against arch-rivals India in the Asia Cup.
After a shaky start, with Pakistan struggling at 33/3 at the end of the Powerplay, skipper Bismah Maroof was joined by Nida. Together they stitched a crucial partnership of 76 runs. Even after Bismah fell, Dar kept the momentum going with a fiery knock.
She smashed 56 not out from just 37 balls with five fours and a six, helping her side post 137/6. With the ball, she gave away 23 runs from her four overs, and claimed important wickets of Jemimah Rodrigues and India skipper Harmanpreet Kaur, as Pakistan cruised to their first-ever win over India in women's T20Is in six years.
Nida was adjudged Player of the Match for her match-winning contributions. Sophie ends the year at the top of the all-rounder rankings, as 2022 was a year where she proved time and again why she is one of the best all-rounders of the game.
Under her leadership, New Zealand won 11 out of 14 games this year, including one Super Over win over West Indies in the fourth T20I in Antigua. In that Super Over win, Sophie was dismissed early, run out for 13.
But she was brilliant with the ball, returning 3-29 from her four-over spell as West Indies went on to level the scores on the last ball with just one wicket in hand. In the Super Over, West Indies made 15/0, and the onus was on the experienced duo of Suzie Bates and Sophie, to take their side across the line and seal the series.
Devine sent the first ball for a six, she then ran a two and a single. New Zealand still needed six runs to win with two balls remaining. Sophie ran a two on the next ball, and only a boundary on the last ball could have sealed the deal for the White Ferns.
Devine hit a six off the last ball, and not only won the match for her team but also won the Player of the Match award for her match-defining exploits. Since her T20I debut in October 2021, Tahlia had a meteoric rise this year in the shortest format.
One of the most exciting talents around, she amassed 128 runs in five matches for Australia to take the gold medal, averaging 42.66 and is currently the top-ranked T20I batter. Tahlia started 2022 with a bang against England in the Women's Ashes series opener in Adelaide.
She made a quick-fire unbeaten 91, her highest T20I score, off just 49 balls. Her entertaining innings was studded with 13 fours and a six. Prior to that, she also made an impact with the ball as she returned 3/26 from her four overs, restricting England to 169/4.
However, the way she took the attack and batted fearlessly, the total seemed below par, as she along with skipper Meg Lanning chased it down with 18 balls to spare.