The International Women's day in 2020 marked a new era in the women's game as the capacity crowd at the Melbourne Cricket Ground witnessed two dominant sides, India and Australia, rekindle their rivalry in the summit clash of the T20 World Cup.
While most people expected women's cricket to finally reap massive dividends, India and countries across the world came to a standstill amid the growing concerns of the pandemic. With cricketing activities coming to an absolute halt, the Indian team played their first match after the historic final after a year-long hiatus at home against South Africa this year.
With the players and the teams competing in various bilateral series across the globe, along with the Women's Big Bash League and the inaugural edition of The Hundred, women's cricket well and truly arrived in style this season.
And today, as we enter a new year filled with excitement for the Women's World Cup to commence in March, we take a look at the seven moments in the women's game in the past season that are etched in the memory of cricket fans.
India end the Aussie juggernaut
26th September 2021 will go down as one of the defining moments in the game as the young Indian contingent halted the winning streak of 26 games of Australia by registering a two-wicket win post a cliffhanger at Mackay.
Three years ago, on 12th March 2018, the Aussie outfit, in their first series post the 2017 World Cup, defeated India at Vadodara to kickstart their dominance in this format.
A milestone to cherish for Smriti Mandhana
In a historic moment during their journey to the Southern hemisphere, the Indian team featured in a day-night Test against Australia at Carrara, making it their maiden appearance in the pink-ball format.
After being asked to bat first, Smriti Mandhana displayed an array of strokes all around the ground to become the first Indian women's player to notch up a hundred in the day-night Test. The southpaw scored a sublime 127 runs in the first innings to help her side declare at 377 runs for the loss of eight wickets.
Despite being in a commanding position and dominating the match for most sessions, the game ended in a draw due to relentless showers.
Harmanpreet Kaur carves her name in record books
One of the most destructive players in the women's game, Harmanpreet Kaur has struggled with lack of runs throughout this season. Days before the Indian team embarked on their trip to Australia, the team management and fans of Indian cricket were sweating over her fitness as the right-handed batter was recovering from a finger injury.
While the 32-year old missed out featuring in the playing XI of the side in the fifty-over format and the one-off Test, she was at the helm of affairs for the side in the shortest form of the game.
Despite a sedate outing in the T20I series, Harmanpreet took the world by storm with scintillating performances in the WBBL that followed.
In over a month of riveting action, Harmanpreet scored 399 runs in 11 innings at a strike rate of 135.25 and scalped 15 wickets to become the first Indian to be named as the Player of the tournament.
Jemimah lights up The Hundred
After a dismal outing in the home series against South Africa and the two ODIs against England away from home, Jemimah Rodrigues struggled to find a place in the playing XI of the side in the white-ball format.
However, immediately after the completion of India's series against England, the 21-year old was part of the inaugural edition of The Hundred.
Plying her trade for the Northern Superchargers, she scored an unbeaten 92 to guide her team to an emphatic six-wicket win over the Welsh Fire at Headingley.
In seven league matches, the right-handed batter smashed 249 runs at an average of 41.50 and a strike rate of 150.90 to light up the tournament with her brutal hitting.
With the women's World Cup slated for early next year, Rodrigues' form in the last season augurs well for the Indian side.
Amy Hunter creates history
On her 16th birthday, Amy Hunter carved her name in the record books by becoming the youngest player, male or female, to score a century in the fifty-over format.
En route to her knock of 121 runs in the final game against Zimbabwe, Hunter breached this special milestone and recorded the highest individual score by an Ireland player in a women's ODI game, surpassing 120 runs made by Karen Young.
The right-handed batter edged past the record held by Mithali Raj, who scored an unbeaten 114 against Ireland at the age of 16 years and 205 days in June 1999.
Deandra Dottin's return to international cricket
After battling a career-threatening shoulder injury, Deandra Dottin was back to her blistering best as she smashed 132 runs against Pakistan in her first overseas series post recovering from the injury.
One of the mainstays in the batting unit of the Windies, the last couple of years has been challenging for Dottin, dealing with injury and her mental health.
However, the 30-year old bounced back to finish the year as the third leading run-scorer this season with 460 runs in 13 innings at an average of 38.33.
Thailand continue to win hearts despite the stutter
One of the most upcoming teams in women's cricket, Thailand, was one of the front runners to qualify for the ICC World Cup after winning three out of their four games in the qualifiers.
However, with the unprecedented chaos due to the pandemic, the ICC decided to call off the tournament in Harare. While the team was on top of the table, the ICC agreed to go to the team standings, resulting in Thailand missing out on a place in the mega event.
In a heartbreaking picture that surfaced online post the decision, the Thailand side received plenty of appreciation for their determination to defy the odds and compete at the highest level with their sheer grit.
(Deandra Dottin image credit - West Indies cricket)