May 6, 2016

Warner: an IPL colossus

The Sunrisers opener is among the most successful batsmen in the league, making fifty-plus scores every three innings

David Warner is only the second batsman in the IPL to make at least five fifty-plus scores in three different seasons © BCCI

After a lacklustre World T20 when he batted at Nos. 3 and 4 for Australia and scored all of 38 runs in four innings, David Warner is back at where he's done the best in T20s - opening. Warner has scored 386 runs in seven innings in this IPL at average of 77.20 and a strike rate of 168.55. Among openers who have played more than one innings in this season, KL Rahul's strike rate of 158.33 comes the closest. Warner's strike rate is also the best for any batsman with at least 150 runs in this IPL.

Admittedly, it has helped to open in this IPL - 2016 has already seen 45 fifty-plus scores by openers in 32 matches, which is just three such scores fewer than what they managed in the whole series last year. Openers' average of 36.83 in 2016 is also the highest in any IPL season. But even among openers, Warner has stood out in the manner he has dominated the bowlers. He has attacked them from the word go and hasn't allowed them to bowl tight lines. In the first 15 balls of his innings in this IPL, Warner has struck at a rate of 174.72, which is higher than any of the other big-hitting batsmen in this series. His balls-per-boundary ratio of 3.6 is also the best among these batsmen.

Strike rates in the first 15 balls, IPL 2016
Batsman Runs BF SR Boundaries Balls/Boundary
 David Warner  159  91  174.72  25  3.6
 Brendon McCullum  145  88  164.77  22  4.0
 Dwayne Smith  119  74  160.81  20  3.7
 AB de Villiers  149  96  155.20  22  4.4
 Kieron Pollard  101  66  153.03  12  5.5
 Andre Russell  118  83  142.16  15  5.5
 Rohit Sharma  140  99  141.41  24  4.1
 Quinton de Kock  103  76  135.52  17  4.5

Warner has also had to shoulder the responsibilities of a team that is clearly one of the weaker batting units in this IPL. While most other teams have had a strong middle order to fall back upon, Sunrisers Hyderabad haven't had that luxury, making Warner's contribution with the bat even more valuable. While Warner has averaged 77.20 in this IPL, the other Sunrisers batsmen have collectively averaged 21.58. Till Sunrisers' seventh game, Warner scored 386 runs out of the 958 that the team's top-seven batsmen have made, making his contribution of 40.29% to the top-order runs the highest for any batsman.

Top contributions by batsmen to top-order runs, IPL 2016
Batsman Team Runs Top-order runs % contribution
 David Warner  SRH  386  958  40.29
 Virat Kohli  RCB  433  1265  34.22
 Rohit Sharma  MI  383  1277  29.99
 Gautam Gambhir  KKR  339  1159  29.24
 AB de Villiers  RCB  320  1265  25.29

In addition to doing the bulk of scoring for his team, he has shored up his team's scoring rate as well, which is apparent from the fact that besides him no other Sunrisers batsman has scored at least 100 runs at a strike rate of 135 or higher. In contrast, all the other four of the top five run-getters till the halfway stage - Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Gautam Gambhir and AB de Villiers - have had the luxury of batting around others who have made significant contributions at a fast clip.

Batsmen with 100+ runs at 135+ SR in 2016 IPL
Team No. of batsmen Batsmen
 SRH  1  David Warner
 RCB  4  Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Shane Watson, Lokesh Rahul
 MI  4  Rohit Sharma, Jos Buttler, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya
 KKR  3  Yusuf Pathan, Andre Russell, Suryakumar Yadav
 DD  1  Quinton de Kock
 RPS  2  MS Dhoni, Steven Smith
 GL  3  Brendon McCullum, Aaron Finch, Dwayne Smith

Warner's IPL success hasn't been limited to this season alone. He has been one of the most successful batsmen in IPL's history. In addition to being one of the top run-getters in this competition, he has notched up 30 fifty-plus scores, which equal the most any batsman has hit. Rohit and Gambhir have also hit 30 fifty-plus scores but they have taken 133 and 125 innings, respectively, to Warner's 90 innings (though to be fair it needs to be said that almost three-fourths of Rohit's innings in the IPL have been at No. 4 or lower). Warner's conversion rate of a fifty every three innings is the second best for any batsman with at least five fifty-plus scores in the IPL.

Top conversion rates in the IPL (min 5 fifty-plus scores)
Batsman Fifty-plus scores Innings Inns/Fifty-plus score
 Lendl Simmons  10  22  2.2
 David Warner  30  90  3.0
 Shaun Marsh  19  61  3.2
 Michael Hussey  16  58  3.6
 Chris Gayle  23  84  3.7

He has been particularly exceptional in the last three seasons having made 18 fifties in just 35 innings, which, by a distance, are the most such scores by any batsman in this period. Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit are next in this list having hit 11 fifty-plus scores each. Warner has made five or more fifty-plus scores in each of the last three seasons, making him only the second batsman after Chris Gayle to achieve this in the IPL. Since 2014, he has made 1476 runs in the IPL - the most by any batsman - at an average of 50.89 and at an excellent strike rate of 153.27. The next highest any batsman has managed to score at a 50-plus average and at a strike rate north of 150 are Krunal Pandya's 111 runs.

Warner's fortunes in T20s in the last couple years or so have mirrored the revival of his Test and ODI careers. The only mediocre aspect of his batting career has been his T20 form for Australia. An average of 26.64 and just two fifties in 15 innings belie his stature as a T20 batsman. Those numbers are likely to improve, especially if Australia give him a consistent run as an opener in this format.

Numbers correct up to the 32nd match of IPL 2016

Shiva Jayaraman is a senior sub-editor (stats) at @shiva_cricinfo