Abu Dhabi, Nov 7 (IANS) Australian cricket coach Justin Langer has said he never doubted veteran opener David Warner’s ability to come up with match-winning scores, despite the 35-year-old not having a great outing at the ICC T20 World Cup before his start-to-finish unbeaten 89 helped the team defeat the West Indies here on Saturday.
Chasing 157 set by the West Indies, Warner blasted a 56-ball 89 as Australia reached the target in 16.2 overs, winning the match by eight wickets and securing a semifinal berth behind Group 1 leaders England in the tournament.
Warner’s inconsistent show with the bat saw him play only a couple of IPL 2021 games in the UAE before he was dropped from the Playing XI by Sunrisers Hyderabad. In the T20 World Cup, he had 18 against Bangladesh, one against England, 65 against Sri Lanka and 14 against South Africa.
“I’ve never seen him (Warner) as fit as he is at the moment,” Langer was quoted as saying by espncricinfo.com on Sunday.
“He’s always fit. But this is at a different level at the moment. You’ve got to work very hard at his age. For him to do what he’s doing, you saw the way he played, ran between wickets, (in) hot conditions — it’s a great tribute to his professionalism and how hungry he is to keep playing great cricket.
“So, it’s nice to see him getting the results he’s had to play two amazing innings for us. And let’s hope he stands up again in the finals like the other boys have been doing so far,” added Langer.
Langer also felt that Australia’s strategy to go into the matches with seven batters and four bowlers had been successful. Barring the big loss to England, Australia, who will be aiming for their maiden T20 World title here, have been emphatic in three ‘Super 12’ games — against Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and West Indies — while the opening game against South Africa went down to the wire.
Australia have traditionally employed six batters and five bowlers but they are opting for seven batters and four bowlers — including one spinner — in the tournament. Between them, part-time bowlers Mitchell Marsh and Glenn Maxwell sent down four overs against the West Indies, conceding just 22 runs.
“Most teams are winning chasing and you saw with a set-up of our side with the extra batter for most of the games in the lead up to this (semifinal) that we’ll back ourselves to chase anything,” said Langer, adding, “That said, finals are a different proposition. So we’ll wait and see. There’s also been the dew factor that didn’t really come into it last night (Saturday night), we didn’t think (it did) in Sharjah.
“But it takes nerves of steel to chase big scores in finals. It’s certainly worked out well so far.”
Australia’s likely semifinal match-up with Pakistan will see Langer face his long-time Test opening partner, Matthew Hayden, who is the Babar Azam-led side’s batting mentor for the tournament.
“The difference is we’ll be sitting on the sidelines watching. But he’s enjoying it. We’ve been back and forth messaging throughout the tournament. No insights, though. We’re sort of keeping business to business.
“It’s going to be good to see him. I haven’t seen him for a long time. But there’s lots of relationships in cricket and when it comes to Thursday night, we’ll put our friendship down for three hours and we’ll get to business and it should be good fun,” added Langer.