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“When his slow knock cost Australia the match against India, Warner knew he needed introspection before he played his next. It was a matter of time when he would break the ice and just be himself at the crease”

David Warner and Australia’s redemption tour in the World Cup 2019 continued as they made it to the semi-final after their 48-run win over Bangladesh on Thursday.

The five-time champions Australia touched rock bottom when they lost 13 out of their 16 ODIs between January 2018 to January 2019. They suffered from the backlash of the ugly Sandpaper Gate, while the dressing room underwent a major change overnight. They had a new captain, coach and they were going to be without their best batsmen, Warner and Steven Smith, for a one long year.

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That period was a tough one for the entire team, across formats, as they were conquered at home, series after series. Virat Kohli-led India earned the biggest achievement while the Aussies went through a miserable phase. For the first time in as many as 71 years, the Australians lost a Test series at home to India. They were whitewashed by England in five-ODI series, they lost at home to both India and South Africa. As the struggles worsened, the World Cup kept nearing. Suddenly, for the very first time, the reigning champions were not even considered to be among the contenders to win the title in England.

Also read:Bangladesh’s fighting spirit wins heart in a convincing Australian win

Smith and Warner’s bans ended at the right time. Even though they had not played an international match in the last 12 months, they were welcomed to the side with open arms. The side needed them. They needed the team. It was a two-way line that was going to click almost immediately in the World Cup. Smith has not been at his best but still has managed to score three fifties in six games. The man who has made a vast difference with his presence is David Andrew Warner – the same man, who allegedly was the mastermind behind the Sandpaper Gate and will never ever get a leadership role in the national team.

The way he has played in the tournament so far, it is hard to believe that he was away from the international platform for a whole year. From six ODIs, he has two fifties and two hundreds and is on the top of the run-charts with 447 runs at an average of 89.40. Warner, who was given the nickname of ‘The Bull,’ played against his nature of aggression. It was evident that he was desperate to architect his comeback with as many runs as possible and not throw away his wicket. But, that approach backfired as he ended up registering two of his slowest ODI fifties.

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When his slow knock cost Australia the match against India, Warner knew he needed introspection before he played his next. It was a matter of time when he would break the ice and just be himself at the crease. Luckily for the Aussies, that happened in their very next match when Warner took control of his innings and set himself loose against Pakistan at Taunton. While his 15th ODI hundred was special, as it was his first since his return after the suspension, he would go on to register his 16th soon.

Warner had an off day against Sri Lanka before he played his best when Australia took on Bangladesh at Trent Bridge on Thursday. Considering the pitch has always been high-scoring, there were no surprises when Finch opted to bat first. One of the major reasons Australia have managed to register wins this World Cup is the opening stands Warner and Finch have put up. Against Bangladesh, they recorded Australia’s second century stand this World Cup, while the pair has also had three fifty-run opening stands.

Warner and Finch have scored more than 500 runs as a partnership, way ahead of Sri Lanka’s openers Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Perera in second on the list, having put on stand worth 207 so far in the World Cup. When the openers do well, the pressure from the following batsmen is reduced and that allows them to play their natural game and that in turn proves to be handy for the team in the end.

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Against Bangladesh, almost every Australian batsman did what he is capable of. Warner and Finch set the tone, Usman Khawaja kept juggling between being an aggressive batsman and a second fiddle before Glenn Maxwell unleashed himself in the final stages of the innings.

“We’ve played so much cricket over the last 12 months with a lot of different people, especially the Bangladesh guys. Getting to know a lot of them as well has been great. It just opens your eyes to a new world. It’s just normal me now,” Warner said after scoring a stunning 147-ball 166. He did not start attacking the ball immediately as he took the crease. Warner batted slowly at the initial stages, which was pointed out in the end, but what mattered was he ended up becoming the first-ever man in men’s World Cup to score two 150-plus scores.

Warner was given an early reprieve when he was batting on 10 and was dropped at third man and that eventually cost Bangladesh the game as the Aussie opener raced to his 16th ODI ton, matching legendary Adam Gilchrist’s in the 50-over format. He also matched Indian captain Virat Kohli as the second quickest batsman (110 innings) to 16 ODI tons after Hashim Amla (94 innings).

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Although Bangladesh were never in the chase of 382, they still managed to give some nervy moments to their opponents when Mahmudullah and Musfiqur Rahim were batting. They batted with intent and courage as they took on almost every bowler and built an excellent 127-run stand giving their fans some thrill in the stadium. Bangladesh batted all 50 overs and that was no good news for Australia looking ahead in the tournament. With the current team, they will not have easy wins. But, this Australian side has shown a great fighting spirit and determination which might take them to the final.

To be fair, Australia have just two bowlers – Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins – and they have the third one if Adam Zampa delivers on the day. The opponent sides by now would have figured out the trick of playing slow in the starting overs, play out the ace pacers and then go after the likes of Kane Richardson, Jason Behrendoff and Nathan Coulter-Nile. If you are batting first, this could work in your favour against the Aussies and that would make the toss decision also easier.

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In the upcoming matches, it has now become more than necessary for the Australian batsmen to score runs in abundance. Only that would give some edge to the bowlers to make a match out of it. A low total against a chasing team like England and India will take Australia no-where. Nevertheless, as we are nearing the business end of the tournament, Australia are slowly having things in control.

The openers are firing, Maxwell has done some serious damage down the order and Khawaja just joined the party. The all-rounders Marcus Stonis and Coulter-Nile have managed to make significant contributions as well. The bowling has bettered than what it was at the beginning of the tournament. All Finch wants now is consistent performances from his boys as Australia have begun their road to the final. Will they reach till the end? Let’s see!

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