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The nominees for ICC Player of the Month nominees for December 2021 have been announced, with three men distinguishing themselves with some brilliant performances in the month.
Mayank Agarwal - India
With regular openers Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill and KL Rahul all missing games at some point last month, Mayank Agarwal has grabbed the opportunity with both hands in the series against New Zealand and South Africa. In the two matches, he scored 276 runs at an average of 69.00, which included two fifties and a century.
With India having drawn the first Test against Kiwis in Kanpur, the hosts were looking to bounce back with a win. India routed New Zealand in Mumbai and Agarwal was the architect of the win a Player of the Match-winning performance of 150 and 62 in the two innings.
He also played a crucial role in India breaking the Centurion hoodoo for the very first time. Batting first in overcast conditions, KL Rahul and Agarwal set the platform with a brilliant opening partnership of 117. During the stand, he was tested by the fiery pace Proteas pace attack but came out shining with a brilliant 60.
India posted 327 in the first innings, which eventually proved to be the difference between the two sides.
Ajaz Patel - New Zealand
Ajaz Patel's name was immortalised in cricketing history in December, when he picked up 10 wickets in an innings against India, becoming the third player in Tests to achieve the feat after Jim Laker and Anil Kumble.
The left-arm spinner played just one Test in the month, where he picked up 14 wickets at an average of 16.07. He picked up all 10 wickets in the first innings but was disappointed by the Kiwi batters who were bundled out for 62.
In the second innings, he picked up four wickets, including that of openers Mayank Agarwal and Cheteshwar Pujara. He finished with figures of 14/225, the best bowling figures in a Test match in 2021.
Mitchell Starc - Australia
Mitchell Starc has played a vital role, both with the bat and ball in hand, in Australia retaining the Ashes with two games to spare. In the three games last month, he picked up 14 wickets at an average of 19.64 and was more than handy with the bat, scoring 117 runs in the three matches at an average of 58.50.
He set the tone for the whole series by dismissing Rory Burns with the first ball of the first Test. While batting, he kept Travis Head company with an innings of 35 and added 85 crucial runs for the eighth wicket.
Starc was magnificent with the bat and ball in the second Test, picking up six wickets and scoring 58 runs in Adelaide. This included a brilliant four-wicket haul in the first innings that helped reduce England to 236, giving Australia a massive lead of 237 runs.
In the Boxing Day Test, Starc picked two crucial wickets in the first innings, including that of England's captain Joe Root. His innings of 24* helped Australia gain an 82-run lead, which proved to be enough as England were bundled out for 68. He picked up three wickets in the second innings as Australia won by an innings to retain the urn.