While I make this list, it is important to remember the peculiar of year 2021 when a lot of Tests and T20Is were played, but not that many ODIs.
It was a far more challenging task to make a list of this compared to the other two formats.
1. Shikhar Dhawan (India) (vice-captain)
Shikhar Dhawan, through absolutely no fault of his own, has suddenly lost his position in the T20I XI but has kept it in the ODIs.
To compensate for this, the BCCI made him stand-in captain for the Sri Lanka tour, a compensation that many would say was not good enough.
Nonetheless, his performances for the ODIs were excellent. In the six innings he did play, he scored over 50 in half of them and averaged 59.40.
Runs 297, average 59.40, ODI bat ranking 16, high score 98 versus England in Pune.
2. Janneman Malan (South Africa)
In the year 2021 in isolation, Janneman Malan was one of the best performing batsmen and it would have been unfair to omit him in the place of more popular players like Rohit Sharma or David Warner.
In the nine matches he played, he scored two centuries and two half centuries while also scoring a hard fought 70 against Pakistan earlier in the year.
Runs 509, average 84.83, ODI bat ranking 33, high score 177* versus Ireland in Dublin.
3. Fakhar Zaman (Pakistan)
The Janneman Malan’s hard fought 70 earlier this year was in a lost cause due to Fakhar Zaman’s hundred in that match.
Such was Zaman’s year in the ODIs that he scored a couple of centuries and became one of the highest run scorers of all players from Test-playing nations in just six matches.
He almost scored a double hundred in South Africa if it was not for that run out.
Runs 365, average 60.83, ODI bat ranking 11, high score 193 versus South Africa in Johannesburg.
4. Jonny Bairstow (England) (wicketkeeper)
One of the better players in white-ball cricket, he was the highest scorer for England in ODIs in 2021.
He scored a century and a half century along with other good knocks in the six matches he did play in.
Runs 291, average 58.20, ODI bat ranking six, high score 124 versus India in Pune.
5. Shakib Al Hasan (Bangladesh)
The number one ODI all-rounder gets the number five position in the squad.
While he has not played many ODIs this year, in the ones he did play he played impactful innings, including a 96 and another half century.
He was also effective with the ball, achieving a five- and a four-wicket haul each.
Runs 277, average 39.57, high score 96 versus Zimbabwe in Harare, wickets 17, best bowling in an innings 5-30 versus Zimbabwe in Harare, ODI bat ranking 26, ODI bowling ranking nine, ODI all-rounder ranking one.
6. Ben Stokes (captain)
The stand-in captain during the Pakistan series is also the captain of choice in this year’s ODI XI because of how well he was able to marshall his troops to clean-sweep Pakistan with a second-string team.
While he performed, he also gathers respect for fighting the stigma of poor mental heath and the importance of treating it.
Runs 189, average 37.80, high score 99 versus India in Pune, wickets four, best bowling in an innings 3-34 versus India in Pune, ODI bat ranking 24, ODI all-rounder ranking six.
7. Deepak Chahar (India)
Deepak Chahar was one of the more impressive performers in the only two matches that he played with both the bat and the ball.
His performance with the bat was more memorable, because it was fighting and managed to snatch victory out of Sri Lanka’s hands in a dire situation with an unlikely partnership with Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Wickets four, runs 90, best bowling in an innings 2-37, high score 69* versus Sri Lanka in Colombo.
8. Dushmantha Chameera (Sri Lanka)
The leading wicket taker of the year in the ODIs, Dushmantha Chameera also performed brilliantly in that series and throughout the year.
In the dwindling number of quality Sri Lankan pacers, Chameera’s emergence would be a sigh of relief for many Sri Lankan fans and the cricket fraternity as a whole to keep the competitiveness alive.
Wickets 20, ODI bowling ranking 35, best bowling in an innings 5-16 versus Bangladesh in Dhaka.
9. Mitchell Starc (Australia)
Peculiarly enough, Australia played a remarkably low number of ODIs this year. Mitchell Starc was the highest wicket-taker this year.
For someone who was said to be struggling for form, his numbers are not that bad and he was definitely one of the key performers in the limited number of ODIs this year.
Wickets 11, strike rate 14.8, ODI bowling ranking eight, best bowling in an innings 5-48 versus West Indies in Bridgetown.
10. Keshav Maharaj (South Africa)
Keshav Maharaj has also seen his stocks rise this year to an extent where he was able to captain South Africa against the Netherlands.
The left-arm spinner is one of the most accurate bowlers in the world and is now being seen as South Africa’s joint premier spinner alongside Tabraiz Shamsi.
Wickets 19, ODI bowling ranking 49, best bowling in an innings 3-38 versus Sri Lanka in Colombo.
11. Akeal Hosein (West Indies)
Akeal Hosein debuted in the international arena this year and attracted eyebrows in the T20 World Cup.
In a year of pandemic and limited ODIs, the West Indies seem to have finally solved their quality spinner problem with Hosein and it will not be a surprise if he is seen as one of the future regulars in the West Indies’ XI.
Wickets 14, ODI bowling ranking 49, best bowling in an innings 3-26 versus Bangladesh in Dhaka.
Sandeep Lamichhane (Nepal) for his remarkable rise to the Nepalese captaincy and an incredible year in the associate world with 18 wickets and a strike rate of just 13.9.