Ban v Aus

Published on September 5th, 2017 | by Arunabha Sengupta


David Warner demonstrates new dimension of his batsmanship

Only four of the 170 balls he faced resulted in boundaries. There was a stretch which saw him negotiate 73 deliveries without a single strike to the fence.

That was the longest David Warner has ever stayed without smashing one to the ropes, or over them. In his entire Test career.

Not that this explosive stroke player has not essayed patient innings earlier. His 71 at Mohali in 2013 was a 147-ball effort. His 50 at Roseau in 2012 was even slower, as he got there in 136 deliveries.

But this knock is special. Because Warner was not really struggling. He was resolute, he was restrained, he was rock-solid.

Not really adjectives that have often been used to describe this dashing left hander.

During the association with Steven Smith, he even allowed the captain to be the more adventurous of the duo. A sure sign of his resolve to play the sheet-anchor role. It was against his nature, against every instinct that has governed his batting over the years. But Warner cared enough to put his head down and build his innings. He knew the value of first innings lead in Test matches in the subcontinent. He knew that he was the senior pro and one of the few who could be counted upon in these conditions. And he also knew that there were still plenty of unconvinced voices that clamour about his performances in Asia.

It was not easy. Mehidy Hasan and Shakib Al Hasan had vanquished the same line up in the first Test. Today Taijul Islam started his bowling spell with an armer that slid in and went through the gate of the Australian captain, hitting timber and ending a crucial, crucial stand. Additionally, there was the tyrannical heat. Peter Handscomb had more difficulty coping with dehydration than the fare dished up a three-pronged spin attack.

But Warner stood through it all. The defence was impeccable, but not reticent enough to put bowlers on top. Even when he batted with Smith, and saw the latter stroke eight boundaries in his fluent 58, he refused to change gear. Especially after the dismissal of Smith, he looked more determined than ever. So often has the captain’s departure signalled a collapse for the Australians in this part of the world. Warner made sure that there was a second dimension to the Aussie batting line-up.

Yet, the rate of scoring, slow by Warner’s standards, was not indicative of any defensive mindset. He did stride out to Shakib repeatedly, his footwork sprightly, and once even forced the canny tweaker to err in length as he drilled him past mid-off for four.

And most importantly, as he walked back at the end of the day, there was that asterisk beside his name, ensuring that he will trot out tomorrow to resume the battle.

Australia do stand at 225 for 2, just 80 behind Bangladesh. But things can change rather rapidly in these parts. A couple of quick wickets and it will be an even contest yet again, and an epic one. The tourists do have to bat last on this wicket.

But Warner’s approach did seem to indicate that he was fully aware of these parameters. He has no intention of letting go of the grip that he has enabled Australia to develop on the Test match. His wicket will not be easy to get, and will definitely be the key to the third day’s cricket.

The fourth-innings century in the last game and the unbeaten 88 here do seem to indicate that Warner has reached a new level of batsmanship. The naysayers with ancient ideas about setting up camp on a Test match pitch may still have doubts about his quality, but he has demonstrated another dimension to his game that is sure to come as a welcome surprise to the Australian side.

It seems that he has mastered the art of batting in the subcontinent. It did take a while, but he will be a prize wicket even in Asia from now on.

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About the Author


Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and the author of Sherlock Holmes and the Birth of The Ashes. He tweets @senantix.

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