Friday, May 24, 2024

ICC: Warner proves point in style against West Indies

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Photo Credit: ICC

If anyone needed a further reminder of what David Warner can do when he has a point to prove, then he certainly delivered one in fine style against the West Indies.

Much has been written about Warner’s failure to find his free-flowing best in the UAE, but the dogged opener channelled his critics in a vintage match-winning innings in Abu Dhabi on Saturday. 

With the stakes high and a win needed to put Australia on the cusp of an ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 semi-final, Warner delivered when it mattered most.

The 35-year-old blitzed nine fours and four sixes in a swashbuckling unbeaten 89 from only 56 balls.

He shared a magnificent century stand of 123 with Mitchell Marsh, 53 off 32 balls, for the third wicket to steer Justin Langer’s men to a vital victory.

But only days previously, the very same Warner had looked visibly out of sorts when trying to spray the Bangladesh attack around the park.

Australia needed to romp home to a brisk victory to benefit their net run rate but Warner consistently missed the middle of the bat.

He only managed 18 off 14 balls in contrast to his skipper and opening partner Aaron Finch at the other end who was striking at 200, making 40 off 20 balls.

Warner’s 65 against Sri Lanka earlier in the tournament had been a lone hand among several failures, he made just one against England, but his second half-century had onlookers thinking back to 2008 when he exploded onto the scene in the shortest form of the game.

Back were the huge sixes, the rapid bursts of sprinting between the wickets and the steely look in the eye that have helped Warner become one of the game’s star batters.

If anything summed up that he really did have the bit between the teeth it was when Chris Gayle was brought on to bowl late on.

Wearing a cap and presumably toasting an imminent retirement notice, Gayle sent one of his part-time off-spinners down the legside which Warner attempted to play a reverse at.

Umpire Richard Illingworth decided not to give a wide given Warner’s change of shot and the decision irked the batter considerably, despite the game being long since over as a contest.

That fire and passion has arguably been lacking in Warner, who experienced a lean time of it at the IPL and was dropped by his franchise Sunrisers Hyderabad. 

But you don’t score over 2,000 T20I runs if you are not capable of overcoming setbacks and exhibiting mental resilience, something it is abundantly clear Warner has in spades.

Speaking after the game, Warner revealed the key to his return to form was just trying to play his natural game, something that has served him well for so long. He certainly delivered it perfectly against the West Indies, firing Australia to victory and giving his critics plenty of food for thought.

After the humbling nature of the defeat to England, plenty of attention went to the Ashes in Australia, with some down under even suggesting Warner should be back playing red-ball cricket to prepare for the series.

Despite that, both Warner and the team have shown they are still a force to be reckoned with at this tournament and barring an exceptional win for South Africa they will now take on Pakistan in the semi-finals.

They will certainly start as underdogs but with Warner back at what looks somewhere near his destructive best, you would not be shocked if he single-handedly muscled his side into the final.

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