Warner, a warning sign for India?

In his new avatar, David Warner has emerged as one of the most destructive – and more importantly, reliable – opening batsmen. Even though he had a slight dip in 2016, tallying 748 runs at 41.56, the charismatic start to 2017 gives him and his fans hope to believe that he could give India a hard time.

DavidWarner

David Warner is a different cricketer from the one he was back in 2013, the last time Australia toured India.   -  AP

While a majority of Australians on tour slogged it out in the optional net session at the Brabourne Stadium on Thursday morning, David Warner, along with Usman Khawaja, Steve O’Keefe, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc preferred to take it easy. Later in the day, the swashbuckling batsman even headed out to a popular toy store.

“Very big kid!!!” is how he referred to himself while posting a picture of himself at the toy store on his Instagram feed. While he was revelling in his welcome distraction, deep down the left-hander would realise that if Australia is to pose a stiff challenge to India in the forthcoming four-Test series, he will have to shoulder a big responsibility.

Warner is in the mould of Virender Sehwag, an opener who could make a lasting impact on a game, or even a series, in a solitary session. Australia will hope that he continues his exploits in the New Year’s Test against Pakistan, where he raced to a hundred in the opening session of the match.

Kevin Pietersen, the burly England batsman, played one of the most dominating innings by a visiting cricketer on Indian soil in the recent past at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, which was instrumental in India suffering a rare series loss at home in 2012-13. Steve Smith and Co. will hope for a similar dominating onslaught from Warner up front in the series.

History isn’t on Warner’s side, though. Notwithstanding his belligerent performances in the Indian Premier League (IPL), he had a sub-par Test series in India four years ago, scoring 195 runs from eight innings. Soon after the 2013 tour that was marred due to the bitter Homework-gate, Warner was involved in a pub brawl with England’s Joe Root during the Champions Trophy.

Transformation

A lot of water has flown under the bridge since then. With the aid of his team-mates and wife, Candice, Warner has transformed himself into a dependable personality, on and off the field. His makeover has been so cosmic that his nickname has changed from “The Bull” to “The Reverend”.

In his new avatar, Warner has emerged as one of the most destructive – and more importantly, reliable – opening batsmen. He tallied more than 1,000 runs in two successive calendar years, 2014 and 2015. Even though he had a slight dip in 2016, tallying 748 runs at 41.56, the charismatic start to 2017 gives him and his fans hope to believe that Warner could give India a hard time.

The precursor to Warner’s challenge against spin duo of R. Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja will be on display for the next three days during Australia’s warm-up game against India A. If Warner can toy with the bowling of Shahbaz Nadeem and K. Gowtham, a seasoned and a promising spinner on the domestic circuit, it could augur well for himself and his team.

In six weeks’ time, we will know whether “The Reverend” has lived up to his newfound reputation.

Warner in numbers

# 195: Runs tallied by Warner during Australia’s last Test tour to India in 2013. He scored just two fifties, with a highest of 71.

# 2453: Runs Warner scored during 2014 and 2015, averaging 58.40 over those two years. He scored a whopping 10 hundreds and 10 fifties in the 42 innings he played in those two years.

# 5: Warner became only the fifth batsman to score a hundred in the first session of a Test when he achieved the feat against Pakistan last month. He joined the elite list of Victor Trumper (Australia vs England, 1902), Charles Macartney (Australia vs England, 1926), Don Bradman (Australia vs England, 1930) and Majid Khan (Pakistan vs New Zealand, 1976).