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Rishabh Pant, Joe Root, others nominated for ICC Player of the Month award for January

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has nominated Rishabh Pant, Joe Root and Paul Stirling for the inaugural ICC Player of the Month Awards which they say recognises and celebrate the best performances across all forms of international cricket in a calendar month. This nomination process has considered performances put in players across men and women cricket in the month of January 2021.

Rishabh Pant was at his dominating best in Australia and thwarted the Australian bowling line up with his powerful stroke play. He first threatened to chase a mountainous target set by the hosts in Australia but perished three short of 100 at 97 and followed it up with another unbeaten 89 that helped India defeat Australia at the Gabba. He was also adjudged man of the match in the final Test of the series that India won 2-1.

Joe Root was batting at the peak of his prowess on the tour of Sri Lanka as he piled on one double century and a big hundred against the hosts. All English batsmen failed to make big runs while Root kept on putting pressure on the home spinners Lasith Embuldeniya and Dilruwan Perera.

Another nominee among Men, Paul Stirling scored three centuries in five ODIs against the UAE and Afghanistan. He had scored 131 not out against UAE in the early part of January 2021 and followed it up with two consecutive hundreds against Afghanistan in the last half of the month.

 ICC Women’s Player of the Month 

In women's cricket, the ICC has nominated Pakistan's Diana Baig, South Africa’s Shabnim Ismail and Marizanne Kapp for the Player of the Month award. 

Baig played three ODIs and two T20Is against South Africa and dominated the bowling charts taking nine wickets in the three-match ODI series against South Africa. 

She was closely followed by Shabnim Ismail who also played three ODIs and two T20Is against Pakistan and helped South Africa win the ODI series against Pakistan by picking up seven wickets. 

Another nominee, Marizanne Kapp played two ODIs and two T20Is against Pakistan where she made 115 runs at a strike rate of 110.57 and scalped three wickets in the ODI series against Pakistan. 

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Strong family ties, sacrifices & incredible work ethic form core to Easwaran's fascinating journey

Abhimanyu Easwaran was 10 years old when he left home to pursue his dream. Shifting bases from Dehradun to a small town in Bengal border living 1800 kilometres away was not easy as a kid, but for Abhimanyu, it all came good. After piling truckloads of run in First Class and List A cricket consistently over the last few years, Easwaran came one step closer to realizing his dream in January 2021 when he received a call up to b stand-bye for India vs England series. Currently training in the national camp ahead of international cricket’s return to India, OneCricket caught up with the Bengal Ranji captain who spoke his heart out about the sacrifices, hardwork and grit that has gone into arriving at this moment. Congrats on getting called-up in the squad. How did you get the news and what was your reaction? Thank you so much, it feels great. I started playing cricket with a dream to play for the country and I am getting closer to it. So, it feels great to be a part of the team and I am really excited to get on the field. Who broke the news to you? It was my parents who broke it to me. I was at my best friend’s place and I was sleeping (laughs). I was woken up by their call and they told me about the selection. How did the family react? They were very, very excited and they were really happy. As a family we have gone through a lot. I have not stayed with my family and it was especially hard on my mom and my sister. I have been playing cricket as a kid and just to get closer to my dream and their dream too, it obviously feels great. Talk to me about your shift to Bengal I moved to Bengal when I was 10. My dad took me to Bengal at this place called as Bongaon. Me and Abhishek Raman (Bengal cricketer) stayed with our coach Mr Nirmalya Sengupta. It wasn’t as much a sacrifice for me because the only thing that I loved, I was getting to do that all day. We used to practice in the morning, come for lunch and then go to practice again. We were playing a lot of matches at that time. It was more of a sacrifice for my family, because I was getting to play cricket and it wasn’t an issue for me. It was more difficult for them because they could not see me for long. How would you like to reward them? A century when you get a debut maybe? (Laughs) I would love to do that. Getting a big score whenever I get a chance or winning a game for the team, I think that would be the best present to them. What is your family like? My father is a Tamilian and my mom is a Punjabi. My father is a chartered accountant and my mom is a house-wife. They met in Dehradun and got married. I have an elder sister and even though I stay away from them, we’ve got a very close-knit family. We are one of those who talk like three times a day. Whenever we can make time, we try to catch up in either Dehradun, Kolkata or Delhi. While talking about technique, form and how he has piled up runs in the domestic cricket, Abhimanyu sounds measured. There is good reason for that. Barring his debut season for Bengal in 2013-14, the right-hander has scored at an average of over 50 in Ranji Trophy. At a Bradmanesque average of 96 (861 runs from 6 matches), he was one of the key figures in the Bengal 2018-19 Ranji campaign. There were expectations that he might get a shot at playing in the Indian Premier League, either than season or in the next; but then came the slump. After being awarded the captaincy in 2019, Easwaran faltered with the bat. While the team went to the finals (where they eventually lost against Saurashtra), the Bengal captain had his worst season with the bat. He finished the season with 258 runs from 10 matches at an average of just 17. Returning back home in Dehradun after the final and then eventually staying their due to lockdown, Easwaran feels that the bad patch is behind him. 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It is very windy, there is seam and bounce, and I think at the end of the day it is about adjusting to those conditions, having certain game plans and concentrating on your way of getting runs in those wickets. It is a really good exposure for us playing in those conditions. If one of us gets called up to play in those conditions, then we know what to expect and how to deal with those conditions. It is a great initiative by the BCCI to have A tours before the series. There is a lot of learning there. You have trained under Rahul Dravid. What have you learnt from them? Rahul sir has always been my idol since I started playing cricket. To share the dressing room with him was great and I think the biggest learning from him was that he used to keep things really simple. He used to share his experiences as to what he felt the conditions were and he was very approachable. We could call him before the tour, even when the tour was announced we could ask him what his thoughts on the conditions were. The best thing was that he told me to stay in the present. There was a time when I was getting 50s for the India A team, but I wasn’t getting the hundreds. He told me that I was batting really well and advised me to stay in the present and to just keep it simple. Simple things like focusing on one ball at a time and if I was to think ahead, think about one over max. That was a really small thing, but that made a big difference. I got a lot of hundreds after that. Before signing off, who would you like to thank for where you are today? It will be my family. My parents and my sister. They have played the biggest part for whatever I am and wherever I have reached even though there is a long journey to go. And all of the coaches who have played part in my journey. I would give special thanks to Mr Apoorv Desai, he has been working with me for a long time now. He has always had that faith in me and has helped me in whatever phase of life I’ve been in.