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The rise and rise of David Warner

NEW DELHI:David Warner is not a classicist. He is a performer at the crease; but then a performer of vast magnitude. He can win a match on his own. What more can a captain desire? But then he is the captain too. What else can a team ask for?

Warner’s batting has evolved from the time he made his rollicking T20 debut in 2009 with a 43-ball 89 against South Africa at Melbourne. File Photo: The Hindu

Warner’s batting has evolved from the time he made his rollicking T20 debut in 2009 with a 43-ball 89 against South Africa at Melbourne. File Photo: The Hindu

He is a batsman who gives shape to his leadership in the middle at a juncture that leaves the opponents floundering and eventually buries them under an avalanche of robust shots. Like the night at Ferozeshah Kotla when Gujarat Lions (GL) bowed to his diktats — 93 not out off 58 balls.

“It was an amazing knock, wasn’t it, the way that he controlled the innings the whole way through and went right through and got them home was outstanding.” This was not one of Warner’s partners from Sunrisers Hyderabad. This praise came from Aaron Finch of GL. Finch, one must add, shares the Australian dressing room with Warner. Apparently he reads him well enough.

Evolving
Warner’s batting has evolved from the time he made his rollicking T20 debut in 2009 with a 43-ball 89 against South Africa at Melbourne. He had not even played first-class cricket yet.

Gradually he put on display his repertoire. He carried his bat in a Test, hit a century in each innings twice — against South Africa at Cape Town and India at Adelaide, the latter in agonizing circumstances when the world of cricket lost Phillip Hughes. The two centuries were Warner’s tributes to a team-mate who suffered a fatal blow from a bouncer.

Troubled times
Not that Warner was perched on a pedestal. He courted trouble for punching an English cricketer in a bar and suffered a prompt suspension. He obviously had issues that did not present him as a pleasant cricketer.

The transformation was rapid. Warner was elevated as a deputy to skipper Steve Smith, came to realise his responsibility as a senior member on the international circuit, and settled into a role that gave a remarkable twist to his image. He was the man they now looked up to perform and deliver. And he delivered more often than not.

Eight fifties in 16 innings in this edition of Indian Premier League (IPL) place Warner in a special category. His innings are match-defining because of his flair to dominate. He is a master at orchestrating a chase, adept at forcing the pace and picking the vacant areas.

Innovations are part of his occupation of the crease but there is a discerning impact the stocky Australian makes with his strokeplay. They carry the mark of a champion.

His aggregate of 779 is second to Virat Kohli’s 919 and ahead of A.B. de Villiers’ 682. Kohli, enjoying the form of his career, bats on his terms but also with the cushion of A.B. and Chris Gayle.

For Warner, support comes from Shikhar Dhawan but there is no denying his solo shows that turn the contest on its head. Virender Sehwag had inspired him with a “you will be a better Test cricketer” remark but the 29-year-old Aussie has proved his scoring skills in all formats of the game with judicious shot selection. Going by his steady growth one is convinced his best is still to come.