MUMBAI, (Reuters) – David Warner had little opportunity to stake his claim for a place in Australia’s World Cup squad as he served a year-long ban for ball-tampering and so it is no surprise to see the batsman cranking out the runs in the Indian Premier League.
Cricket Australia slapped former captain Steve Smith and his deputy Warner with 12-month suspensions, which expired last week, for the Cape Town scandal and the duo are expected to be included in the 15-man World Cup squad.
Two months out from the World Cup in England, Warner showed he had lost none of his marauding form by smashing 85 in 53 balls in Hyderabad’s IPL opener against Kolkata Knight Riders.
The 32-year-old continued in the same vein against Rajasthan, the day after his international ban ended, scoring 69 off 37 deliveries, and then remained unbeaten on 100 against Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore on Sunday.
Warner leads the run-getters’ list and has also notched three consecutive 100-run partnership for the opening wicket with Englishman Jonny Bairstow, who scored a blistering 114 against Bangalore.
“The 12 months has done me well,” Warner said after putting up the highest opening stand of 185 with Bairstow on Sunday. “I’m nice and refreshed.
“What a terrific innings here by Jonny, and a fantastic partnership by both of us.”
Warner’s Sunrisers trail only three-times champions Chennai in the early stages of the Twenty20 tournament. Led by former India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the Super Kings look unstoppable and have won all three of their matches.
At the other end of the scale, Dhoni’s protege and current India captain Kohli has a mighty task on his hands if he is to lead Bangalore to a first IPL title after losing their first three games.
Despite having Kohli and talismanic South African AB de Villiers in their ranks, Bangalore’s batting has already failed twice. They were all out for 70 in the IPL opener against Chennai and bundled out for 113 on Sunday against the Sunrisers, losing by a huge margin of 118 runs.
The tournament has already seen some epic highs, such as a Super Over finish between Kolkata and Delhi, but also some disappointments and controversies.
Ravichandran Ashwin’s ‘Mankad’ dismissal of Jos Buttler in a match between Rajasthan and Punjab caused uproar, while an umpiring gaffe left Kohli fuming and prompted the Bangalore skipper to publicly criticise the officials after his team’s defeat to Mumbai.