David Warner, a Test player at heart, offers reminder of T20 brilliance in IPL final
Many are the colours of successful Twenty20 batting and as many are the ways that those batsmen have arrived to this point.
This was the truth from the final of the ninth season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) on Sunday evening, a tournament which has become an annual gathering of the greatest proponents of batsmanship.
The simplest of all the styles, and historically the most destructive, is of Chris Gayle, whose 76 from 38 balls for so long seemed to have been decisive in landing Royal Challengers Bangalore their first IPL title.
Gayle’s methods need little deconstruction: a small but decisive movement of feet, the set-up, and swing. Anything full, within his reach and arc and expect no mercy.
But Gayle was already an established batsman by the time he played his first Twenty20 match in September 2005. He had played over 50 Tests, had over 3,000 runs and was averaging just under 40 (and his hundreds already included a triple).
He had over 100 ODI games behind him, over 4,000 ODI runs. Through T20s, he has reinvented himself, another player altogether to the one who began the career.
His Bangalore captain Virat Kohli is probably the most orthodox of all the ones who graced the final.
More from the Indian Premier League:
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His intent is entirely post-modern, but the base from which it is built? That is, in broadest terms, a fairly classical and recognisable one.
He has long been destined for big things but he has also taken a traditional route to this stage. He first established himself as a 50-over genius, then grew into — and is still growing as — a Test player of undoubted quality.
Only latterly has he transformed himself into such an undoubted giant of the shortest format.
His cohort this season, AB de Villiers, is a freak though in any batting family tree, he would be likelier to share a bloodline with Kohli than Gayle. The T20 format does not define him, as it now does Gayle, or to the degree which it might Kohli. Tests, and especially 50-over contests are De Villiers’s thing.
The most confounding style and route to this stage has probably been that of David Warner, whose 69 ended up in a winning cause in the final Sunday as Hyderabad’s bowling overcame Bangalore’s batting clout.
Kohli’s side — at 140-1 with more than six overs left — were heading for the title before rash shots from he and De Villiers led to a collapse that saw them fall eight runs short.
It made Warner’s opening knock, and a late flurrish of 39 from 15 balls from Ben Cutting, appear all the more important.
Warner, famously, made his debut for Australia in a T20I before he had even played a first-class match.
Yet since then he has grown in such a way that he is one of the best Test openers in the game currently. There is nothing wrong with his shorter-format game but it is over five days where his true colours, and value, seem to emerge.
That is in line with the prophesy of Virender Sehwag — another spectrum of batting colours all by himself — who first alerted Warner to the fact that his style allied to the generally more attacking fields would bring him greatest success in Test cricket. Warner’s evolution as a batsman has been most discernible among the quartet. He has expanded his range of shots and improved immeasurably against spin.
His innings in the final was not explosive in the sense that we might imagine Warner explosiveness to be.
It was, in fact, almost unhurried with that development of his strokeplay on full display: he brought up his 50, the joint-fastest ever in an IPL final (24 balls), with a pair of cuts, one fine and one through extra cover, that the earliest Warner might not have middle so.
He has not exactly slipped under the radar this season, but it is safe to say that Kohli and De Villiers have burned so bright that every other batting feat has been overshadowed.
But Warner has torn through attacks with unmatched intensity, his fifty Sunday his ninth in just 17 games this season.
That is just as remarkable a run as Kohli’s and he even has a title to garnish it with.
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Updated: May 29, 2016 04:00 AM