Middle order a 'great role' - Warner
David Warner is excited with his new role in the middle order of Australia's T20 side, which has been handed to him ahead of the World T20 in India.
Before this series against South Africa he had only ever opened in T20Is, but after batting at No. 3 in the opening match in Durban he compiled a thunderous 40-ball 77 in Johannesburg at No. 4 - part of a record stand of 161 with Glenn Maxwell - to lead Australia's recovery and carry them much of the way towards their highest successful T20 chase.
Warner's shift to the middle order came about after discussions with the team management - captain Steven Smith, coach Darren Lehmann and the selectors - about the best way to utilise players successful in the recent Big Bash and with an eye on tactics to combat spin bowling.
That latter factor was on display at the Wanderers as Warner helped repel Imran Tahir, who has had a telling role in South Africa's recent white-ball success, as he went for 47 in four overs after claiming 3 for 21 in Durban.
"The fortunate thing for us was that I was in and we had a left-hand, right-hand combination, that's what we try and do when you have a spinner who spins it away from the right-hander," Warner said. "We've only got myself and Ussie [Usman Khawaja] and when he's in the team he's at the top and I'm in the middle.
"It's a great role for me to play and it was my role to try and take him on today, he bowled a couple of wrong 'uns and I managed to get under them. Then he bowled back-of-a-length to us both which was quite hard to hit so we had to decide where we would score and that was to target straight. The conditions didn't suit him as much today."
There is plenty of competition for top-order batting positions in Australia's T20 side. Khawaja and Aaron Finch opened in the first match of this series while Shane Watson returned in place of Khawaja in Johannesburg.
"We looked at the way the boys were playing in the Big Bash and ways to get people in the team," Warner said. "Talking to Steve and Boof [Lehmann], and what the selectors felt, the key component was to have those three at the top with me and Steve in the middle. I'm comfortable with that if that's what Steve wants."
The response from Warner and Maxwell in Johannesburg enabled Australia to successfully chase a target over 160 for just the second time in T20Is - and a first 200-plus success was timely with the World T20 challenge closing in, where Warner believes scores could be similar to what were on show at the Wanderers.
"Our confidence will always be high," Warner said. "Our first two games in India are at small grounds where you'll have to chase well and if you bat first 200 might not be enough."