David Warner came into a clash with in-form Sri Lanka laughing off questions over his form – he then answered them in style as Australia underlined their status as title contenders at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021.
The opener had scored just 17 runs in his last five T20 innings but with two of those knocks coming in the warm-up matches for this tournament, Warner was not concerned.
And perhaps a clash with Sri Lanka was just what the doctor ordered, with 65 today Warner has now passed 50 in each of his last four innings against Sri Lanka in T20Is.
He rode his luck a little, Kusal Perera putting down a simple catch when Warner had just 18 and had gloved one through off the bowling of Dushmantha Chameera.
But aside from that, it was a measured knock, happy to play the supporting role as skipper Aaron Finch set the tempo early on before ratcheting it up a notch alongside Steve Smith, with the pair showing that age has not slowed their running between the wickets.
Australia with an in-form Warner are a very different beast. He and Finch put on 63 in the powerplay, the best showing of the tournament so far and the sort of platform that made a formality of chasing 155 – a par score in Warner’s eyes.
And with Covid having affected the amount of cricket that has been possible over the last couple of years, Warner was relieved to be back out there scoring runs.
He said: “I had to start fresh. Everyone was talking about my form but I reiterated that it’s not the thing I’m worried about, it’s about going out there and starting well. Finchy started well, we gelled well out there and applied pressure to the bowlers.
“It’s the world of sport, when you ride the highs, you’ve got to ride the lows and you have to stay confident, keep a smile on your face and never let it get to you.
“It was great to get out there in the middle, spend some time there, running between the wickets. Little things like that just keep your mind ticking.
“When you are in those pressure situations, if we were chasing ten an over at that stage, you have to train your mind not to panic. In the last six to twelve months we haven’t played that much cricket so I haven’t been in those situations. So it’s good to get back out there, get the cricket cues going.
“It was great to get out there and get some runs on the board but the most important was the start we got, me and Finchy from a batting point of view, and then through the middle we were able to control the innings, and then it’s handy to have Smithy out there to run between the wickets.”
Part of the challenge for all the top-order batters is the slow nature of the wickets, with Warner having explained that he had taken to training on synthetic wickets and polished concrete in order to adjust.
That appeared to pay dividends. He added: “That’s helped and it’s something we’ll keep continuing through this World Cup.
“You’ve got to have a nice, stable base on these wickets. When people take pace off the ball, you’ve got to wait for the ball, when there’s pace on it, you can sit on it.”
Warner certainly did that against Sri Lanka. Next up are familiar foes England, the only other unbeaten side in Group 1.