Saturday, May 18, 2024

IPL 2023: David by name, Goliath by nature

CHENNAI: When David Warner was signed by Delhi Capitals ahead of the 2022 Indian Premier League (IPL) season, it raised very little eyebrows. By the time the auction had ended, his addition at contributed to a dynamic T20 batting side. Warner, Prithvi Shaw, Mitchell Marsh, Sarfaraz Khan, Rishabh Pant and Rovman Powell in the top six, what else could you ask for?

It was the kind of line-up that could counter any type of bowling attack. In fact, Warner is one of the very few overseas left-handers who doesn’t struggle against spin in the IPL. He takes on seamers (average of 39.1 at a strike rate of 140.45) with ease and smashes spinners ( 53.75 at 141.16) for fun. However, there were doubts over how he was going to fare, especially after the tough season (both on and off the field) with Sunrisers Hyderabad.

The southpaw came out all guns blazing for the Capitals, smashing 432 runs in 12 innings at a strike rate of 150.52. He was twelfth in the overall run-scorers and the leading batter for the franchise. The then 35-year-old showed why he was still one of the most revered overseas batters in the history of the league. Cut to 2023, Warner now has more responsibility on his shoulders.

In the absence of Pant, he will be leading the franchise, something he excelled at in his prime with Hyderabad. This, however, could be a different challenge. For he himself is coming into the season on the back of a poor run in international cricket and the Big Bash League. In the six games he played in the BBL for Sydney Thunder, Warner managed only 99 runs at a strike rate of 108.7. When the Australian team toured India, he was on the sidelines with an injury until the last ODI in Chennai where he accumulated 23 runs.

While Warner is the wearing-heart-on-sleeve, leading from the front kind of a captain, in a setup like Capitals where Ricky Ponting, the head coach, has a prominent role to play, the southpaw might have a different role to play as captain. And it will be interesting to see how he adapts to it. However, what doesn’t change is his role as the aggressive tone-setter at the top of the batting order.

Once again, opening the batting with Shaw, Warner would be keen to replicate the kind of season he had last year. This could be his last chance at captaining a team to glory in the IPL. For years, the Australian has been able to differentiate his form in international cricket and what he does for two months in India during the T20 league. The numbers say as much. Come Saturday, he will be keen to do the same as DC take on Lucknow Super Giants in their opening game.

Warner’s average against spin in the IPL is 53.75 as he strikes at 141.16
The Capitals opener hits at 140.45 against pace in IPL
He is the third leading scorer in IPL history with 5881 runs from 162 matches

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