The man needs no introduction. He is one of the hardest hitters in world cricket at present. For a player who began his cricketing career as a T20 specialist, it was important for him to prove his worth in Tests in order to be considered a complete player and in the last couple of years, he has even achieved that. His superiority was recognised when he was named Australian cricket’s vice-captain in 2015 – the same year when he was given the captain’s armband of Indian Premier League’s Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH).
The name is David Warner.
There have been several captains who have succumbed to the pressure of being a captain. In order to concentrate on batting, many have given up the role. As Steve Waugh once said, “The captain has to pull together ten different individuals with contrasting personalities and personality traits and get them all going in the same direction by treating them equally but differently.” The responsibilities carried out by a cricket captain are never easy and at some point in time, it does affect the performance of the player.
However, a successful captain is someone who is almost never affected by the high-pressure role. The runs keep flowing for him on regular intervals. If he is a batting captain, he will make it a point to lead from the front. If he is on the top-order, the team’s starts are secured because the skipper will always have a captain’s knock under his sleeves. Along with his own performance, he goes on to inspire his teammates and that in turns happen to do wonders for the side. When a thriving captain is being discussed, the first name that comes up at present is Australian cricketer, Warner. His run as SRH’s batsman and the captain has been commendable in the last couple of years.
In 2015 when Warner led SRH for the first-time, although the team failed to make it to the playoffs, Warner was the top scorer that season with 562 runs.
The story got bettered for the SRH next year. They did not have the best of the starts, but they managed to bounce back from two back to back losses in the beginning of the 2016 edition of the IPL. Warner’s unbeaten 90 against Mumbai Indians inspired Sunrisers to their first win. In the course of the tournament, SRH went on to win eight out of the 14 group matches before they won the eliminator, second qualifier and the final to lift their maiden IPL trophy. In the second consecutive season in a row, Captain Warner led SRH from the front with the bat. Warner and Virat Kohli were neck to neck in 2016 before the latter zoomed way ahead with four centuries. The skipper was the Player of the Match on three occasions. His third and final Player of the Match performance proved to be the most crucial one.
It came during the second qualifier, which was played between SRH and Gujarat Lions (GL). The winner of the two would play RCB in the finals. While chasing GL’s target of 163, SRH faced a batting collapse and that left Warner once again in a must-perform situation. He single-handedly helped SRH to seal the match with his incredible knock of 93* off 58 balls. Even in the IPL 2016 Final, there was no stopping for the Australian cricketer. He once again chipped in with a half-century and gave the side an excellent start in the final. His knock of 69 off 38 balls before Ben Cutting’s fireworks ensured SRH has a 200+ total at the end of 20 overs.
In reply, Royal Challengers Bangalore produced one of the best starts when Kohli and Chris Gayle went after the SRH bowling attack. However, his captaincy was again top notch. His smart field placements and bowling changes shattered the RCB’s top-class batting line-up. The match ended as a nail-biter where it was SRH who clinched the final by a mere eight runs.
Prior to the tenth edition of the IPL, the defending champions were understandably the favourites, while Warner was considered the front-runner for the orange cap. As anticipated, Warner has been the standout performer for his side and the stick out batsman so far in the tournament. The Aussie, who never fails to leave everyone in awe by delivering consistent performances, already has a record to his name with more than half of the IPL season still left.
Having played 12 matches until now in IPL 2017, Warner has scored 529 runs that are inclusive of a century and three fifties. He crossed the 500-run mark during SRH’s latest match against Rising Pune Supergiants, where the skipper piled up another 40 runs and became the first-ever batsman to have scored 500+ runs in four consecutive IPL seasons – 528 runs (IPL 2014), 562 runs (IPL 2015), 848 runs (IPL 2016) and 529 runs (IPL 2017).
Although SRH have dropped to the fourth position after eight wins and five losses in IPL 2017, you just can’t right off them. Even last year, they had won only eight group matches but then they ended up as the champions, courtesy of Warner’s presence in the side. With two more matches to go in the group stage, Warner and his boys will leave no stone unturned to make it to the playoffs and as Warner wrote on his social media, “We will bounce back in the next game.”