It wasn't unusual, not at first: David Warner on 26 off 12 balls while Delhi Daredevils were shaky at 38 for 3. After all, that's how he plays. This was the man who had scored 29 before Virender Sehwag faced a ball against Deccan Chargers. Over the next 17 overs, though, Warner busted out a few new moves, playing with control, proving there was more to him that what is immediately apparent.
Warner is a batsman made for Twenty20 but tonight's century, the second of the 2010 IPL, was not just about free-spirited hitting. It was a determined performance that rescued Delhi from early losses and led them to 177 for 4. It wasn't a massive total but a sufficient one that showcased Warner's ability to bat out an innings under pressure. Two features in particular stood out: the manner in which he paced the innings while Paul Collingwood settled, and the way he fed off Collingwood's success.
"I enjoyed that," Warner said after collecting the Man-of-the-Match award. "I assessed the conditions and backed myself. I played my game, made sure I buckled down through the middle period, and was there at the end." Warner and Collingwood ended the innings by ransacking 28 runs off the last two overs, both reaching individual milestones.
Their hard work, however, was in the first 15 overs. Though Delhi had lost early wickets, Warner didn't take time to play himself in, smashing four fours and a six to ease the pressure. By the end of the Powerplay, Delhi had reached 62 for 3, with Warner contributing 44 off 26 balls. There was a cleanness to his striking that was wonderful to watch, the crunch of the ball off the middle of his heavy bat resonating around the Feroz Shah Kotla. Gautam Gambhir said it was the best innings he'd seen on this ground.
In previous matches, Warner had failed to cash in on starts and had only one significant partnership with AB de Villiers against Deccan. Today the responsibility was his for he was the senior player - this was Collingwood's first game- and Warner not only provided momentum, but also gave Collingwood time to graft his innings. His half-century came off 29 deliveries but he slowed down after that, his next 55 taking 40 balls. Still, out of a 128-run stand with Collingwood in 16.2 overs, Warner scored 74 off 54 but was lavish in praise of his partner. "He [Collingwood] was perfect. It was his first game, his debut, and he played perfectly. He assessed the situation perfectly and took the pressure off me."
The Kotla isn't a massive ground and the boundaries were brought in further, but regardless of those factors it was a stunning effort from Warner. His methods were the same against pace or spin: clear the front leg, size up the length, and hit it hard. Five balls went over the boundary, others bounced just short and a few flew past outstretched hands in the circle. He caused damage with the short-arm jab, both over square leg and midwicket, and scored a majority of his runs past mid-off: 41 down the ground on the offside.
The pitch, however, was slow and not suited to Warner's across-the-line hitting, and spin played a role in curbing the scoring. Warner has had issues with slow bowling for Australia, but not today. The tidy lines forced Warner to check his aggression but when Sourav Ganguly placed a slip and packed the offside for David Hussey's offspin, Warner manipulated the ball into gaps on the leg side. "It was a 150 wicket, but David played a blinder," Ganguly said. "He kept clearing the ground. We tried. It was a slow pitch, it gripped, the seamers were going for runs, spin was the only option."
Delhi needed momentum going in to a crucial match, and Warner provided it. The win catapulted them into the top four and more such contributions from him will keep them there.