It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Steve Smith’s absence was enough for England’s victory at Headingley to be a fait accompli.
As David Warner left an almost capacity Hyderabad home stadium last night, the faithful were on their feet farewelling their champion left-handed batsman who will rejoin the Australian World Cup squad in Brisbane on Thursday.
Warner had thrilled the 32,047 spectators with 81 off 55 with seven fours and two sixes despite the sapping 40-degree heat.
That took his 2019 IPL campaign to 692 runs off 481 balls with 57 fours and 21 sixes, at an average of 69.20 and a strike rate of 144.17.
He leaves India with an unbeaten ton and eight half-centuries to his name from just 12 digs, a phenomenally consistent campaign – the best in the tournament.
So successful was his contribution that the individual digs demand recognition in chronological order:
85 off 53 with nine fours and three sixes.
69 off 37 with 9/2.
100* off 55 – 5/5.
10 off 18 – 0/0.
15 off 13 – 2/0.
70* off 62 – 6/1.
51 off 47 – 3/1.
50 off 25 – 3/1.
67 off 38 – 3/5.
57 off 45 – 3/2.
37 off 32 – 0/0.
81 off 55 – 7/2.
In the process, he helped Sunrisers Hyderabad to seven good starts thanks to some excellent opening partnerships with Englishman Jonny Bairstow.
Bairstow returned to England to prepare for the World Cup, so Warner had to open last night with Wriddhiman Saha – it didn’t matter, though as they put on 78 off 6.2 overs.
All up, Hyderabad have scored over 600 runs in their opening partnerships, so it’s little wonder the Sunrisers are in line for a semi-final berth.
But there are many pundits and Roarers who want Warner to bat three in the World Cup behind Aaron Finch and Usman Khawaja.
Warner is also well in front in the race for the coveted Orange Cap award as the IPL’s leading run-getter this season. KL Rahul is next on 520, still some 172 runs in arrears of the Australian. Andre Russell (486), Shikhar Dhawan (451) and Chris Gayle (448) round out the top five.
Only Warner and Gayle have donned the Orange Cap twice. The big West Indian topped the runscoring charts in 2011 and 2012 with 608 and 733 runs respectively, while Warner did the double in 2015 and 2017.
For the record, Virat Kohli holds the highest runs scored, set in 2016, with a massive 973 that included seven half-centuries and four centuries.
But it’s David Warner who has been the talk of this tournament.
Steve Smith will end his IPL campaign tonight.
He has slowly regained his form after his 12-month suspension and elbow surgery, but he’s been more consistent since he took over the Rajasthan Royals captaincy.
Ink in both Warner and Smith as vital cogs in the Australian machinery to retain the World Cup.