David Warner believes Rohit Sharma’s absence during the white-ball leg of the Australia tour is a big loss for India, but at the same time, he also thinks the visitors have got enough in-form replacements.
Sharma is currently recovering from a hamstring injury he suffered during IPL 2020 and has been included only in the Test squad.
“He’s a big piece of their team they’re going to be missing, but they’ve got great in-form guys, KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan and Mayank,” Warner said. “These guys played in the IPL, so you’ve got guys in good touch and great talent and depth in Indian cricket to take that position of Rohit. He’s a big hole in their team up the top, but you’ve got guys who can replace him who are in form that will do a good enough job, if not better, as we saw in India.”
Warner himself had a successful outing in the IPL despite a slow start to the season. In the first ten games, he scored 335 runs at a strike rate of 124.07. It was then he decided to open up his front leg and give it a whack. The next six matches brought him 213 runs at 155.47.
“Yeah, definitely,” he said when asked if he would continue in the same aggressive manner in T20Is. “What do you want to see? 100 off ten overs or something? (laughs). In the one-day stuff, I’ll still come out and play the way I normally do. There’s probably going to be no change to that. And the T20 stuff is what people saw there.
“To answer the question, of how I played at the backend of that tournament, we had to play that way on those wickets. You couldn’t just play yourself in. You had to take on that first six overs against the new ball. Here in Australia, it’s a bit different in 50-over cricket, you can still play the normal way you do and I think I showed that last year, the way I played against Pakistan and Sri Lanka. I played pretty much the same way as I did during the backend of that IPL. I won’t be changing my game and will go out and tackle it the way I always do.
“There’s obviously a risk element but there’s obviously a cricket smarts element to it as well. For myself, it’s about getting off to a good start and taking calculated risks in that middle-overs period if we’re talking about 50-over games. For me, it’s about making sure that I’m batting as much as I can and at a good strike rate as well.”
Last time India toured Australia, the players were involved in a lot of verbal volleys on the field. Warner though feels he may adopt a different approach this time.
“For me, personally it’s about getting in the contest, so that’s basically when you’re out there and you’re trying to feel for something. For me, last summer was one that coming off the back of England I really had to knuckle down and try and concentrate as much as I could, and try and get into a battle out there and contest with the opposition. I managed to find that in a different way and it worked, and for me, it’s about trying to find that balance again when I’m out in the middle. Different this year. We start with a white-ball series against India, generally the other way around, which is going to be exciting, and Virat [Kohli] is only playing seven of the ten games, so for us, it’s about going out there as a team and trying to control our emotions and play them on skill.
But how will he react if Indian players have some words to say to him?
“I’ll always draw from that, mate. To try and get engaged, that’s the way they like to play as well. We saw that last time when we toured India. They really engaged us like that. We’re learning over time and trying not to engage in that. Probably try and reverse the effect by trying and ignoring it, trying to take it on board and using it against them by using your bat. It’s probably something I’ve learnt over time. And you don’t know the effect it can have on your team-mates as well. You’ve got to be a bit more humble in that respect.”
With Ajinkya Rahane slated to take over the captaincy once Kohli leaves after the first Test, Warner may have to re-think their strategy of on-field engagement with the opposition players.
“Obviously with Virat missing, and well done to him to go home and be by his partner’s side for the birth of his first child… he’s a great guy, Jinks [Rahane]. He’s calm and very measured in his approach. He’s got a very good cricket brain. When you take Virat out of there, I don’t want to say this the wrong way, but he’s obviously passionate, aggressive, he plays with that fight when you’re out there.
“Jinks is calm, collected, measured. It’s like chalk and cheese with two of them two and as a player to try and engage him on the field, as we’re talking about engaging, and getting into that contest as players, we obviously got to think about how to do that especially with Ajinkya as captain. The great thing from India’s perspective is that you’ve got three if not four very good players who could captain the team at any time. With him, he’ll bring a calm and measured approach with his nature.”