David Warner and Peter Handscomb shine in Bangladesh

Ronan O'Connell Columnist

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    A wonderfully patient knock by David Warner and a typically fluent contribution from Peter Handscomb has put Australia in a strong position heading into Day 3 of the second Test in Bangladesh.

    Warner and Handscomb’s 127-run partnership guided Australia to 2-225, trailing Bangladesh by just 80 runs.

    Warner played one of the most circumspect knocks of his 66-match Test career, which was in stark contrast to his free-flowing 112 in the first Test.

    That innings at Dhaka came at a sizzling strike rate of 83 and included a whopping 17 boundaries. Yesterday, Warner scored at a strike rate of just 51 and struck only four boundaries during his 170-ball stay.

    To get an idea of just how patient Warner was, consider that, in his Test career, he has made 44 scores in excess of 50, yet only five have been at a strike rate less than 60.

    What was most impressive was the manner in which Warner maintained his composure after a slow, scratchy start.

    Warner loves to begin with a cluster of boundaries to assert his dominance over the bowlers. Here he shackled his ego and was content to let the Bangladesh bowlers control the tempo, even while his partner, Steve Smith (58), was scoring swiftly.

    As his innings wore on, Warner expanded his repertoire of shots but remained careful in choosing which balls to attack.

    It was an anchor innings, the likes of which his former opening partner, Chris Rogers, used to play regularly. Warner benefited from many of those by Rogers, enjoying the most prolific period of his career during the time he played alongside the veteran.

    Yesterday, it was Warner’s calm which aided Handscomb and Smith, who both looked to take on the bowlers more often.

    Smith skipped away to 31 from 32 balls, with six boundaries in this early period, as he sought to put the spinners under heavy pressure. The Australian skipper was in complete control at the crease and looked set for a big century before playing for the turn and being bowled by a straight delivery from Taijul Islam.

    That brought to the crease Handscomb, who like Warner before him looked out of sorts in his 45 minutes at the crease. The 26-year-old struggled to rotate the strike early and, on 7 from 26 balls, he appeared to be stuck in the mud.

    But, following Warner’s lead, Handscomb exercised fine self-control and scrapped through this tough period. Soon enough he broke free and began to find a sprightly rhythm. Of particular note was his nimble and assertive footwork, as he regularly skipped down the track to turn good deliveries into half-volleys.

    Even when he stayed in the crease, Handscomb made a point of getting well forward in defence, after playing off the back foot so regularly in the first Test.

    As I pointed out in a recent article, Handscomb has continually made good starts during his six Tests in Asia this year, only to waste them, getting out for between 15 and 33 eight times.

    He has the makings of a batsman who can be a prolific scorer in Asia. Australia need him to start that transformation today by going on to make a big century and put them in a dominant position.

    Ronan O
    Ronan O'Connell

    Ronan O'Connell has been a journalist for well over 13 years, including nine at daily newspapers in WA. He now traverses the world as a travel photojournalist, contributing words and photography to more than 30 magazines and newspapers including CNN, BBC, The Toronto Star, The Guardian, The South China Morning Post, The Irish Examiner and The Australian Financial Review. Check out his work and follow him on Twitter @ronanoco

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