Warner vs Watson – the battle of former team-mates

In the absence of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, RCB will be led by Shane Watson. His counterpart in the IPL 2017 opener is his countryman and long-time team-mate David Warner.

In the opening fixture of the Indian Premier League Season 10, last year’s winner Sunrisers Hyderabad hosts the runner-up, Royal Challengers Bangalore, at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, in Uppal, Hyderabad.

Read: Upbeat SRH takes on injury-hit RCB

In the absence of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, RCB will be led by Shane Watson of Australia. Sunrisers Hyderabad will be led by Watson’s countryman and long-time team-mate, David Warner. When they played together for Australia, Warner found an ally in Watson, who defended the southpaw’s use of big bats. When Watson retired from Test cricket, Warner said the all-rounder was a role model for kids. Their mutual admiration is strong.

For Australia, Watson played 58 T20Is, scored 1462 runs at a strike rate of 145.32. He has one century and 10 half-centuries. He captained Australia in only one match, but his team ended on the losing side.

In the IPL, Watson has been prolific as an all-rounder. He was the player of the tournament in the inaugural edition. He has scored two hundreds and 14 half-centuries in the last nine seasons with a strike rate of 140.70. Not to forget, Watson has also picked up 81 wickets from 94 matches with at an economy rate of 7.71. He had captained Rajasthan Royals in 2014, but the side’s campaign ended in the league stage itself.

RCB, hit by injuries to its key players, will look to Watson for inspiration to help a young team sail through the initial matches.

The IPL has provided a big fillip to Warner’s career as he became the first Australian player to figure in the national side without having played a single first-class match. The left-hander has played 63 T20Is so far, scoring 1636 runs at a strike rate of 139.56.

Like Watson, Warner has also scored two hundreds in the IPL. However, Warner has scored 18 more half centuries and has a slightly better striker rate (142.20) than Watson. Furthermore, Warner’s aggression and on-your-face attitude (much like Kohli’s) helped Sunrisers’ win the title last season.

Watson and Warner will surely forget their mutual admiration and bring in the indomitable Aussie fighting spirit when they take the field tonight.