Australia will find it hard to resist adding David Warner to their one-day squad if he maintains the incredible form that prompted the captain Ricky Ponting to liken him to Adam Gilchrist. Warner's 89 from 43 balls in his Twenty20 international debut captivated the MCG crowd and the fans would love to see him back for the first ODI on Friday.
His innings featured seven fours and six sixes, including a couple of monsters over midwicket, and his 19-ball half-century was the second-fastest in Twenty20 internationals. Ponting said it was unlikely Warner would be in Australia's initial ODIs this season, although he did not rule out a call-up for the remainder of the series if he impresses in the second Twenty20 at the Gabba on Tuesday.
"The squad has been picked for the first two games. I don't think they'll make any changes to that now," Ponting said. "But all Dave can do is keep churning out the runs and if he keeps hitting them the way he did tonight then he's going to be putting pressure on people left, right and centre, whether it's players or selectors.
"It doesn't matter what form of the game you play, if you get off to that sort of start you're going to be winning most games or giving it a shake. He'll play again on Tuesday for us in Brisbane and hopefully do well again. If he keeps doing that and putting scores on the board then he's going to be hard to resist."
Ponting batted with Warner for 6.1 overs and simply tried to hand him the strike at every opportunity. His baseball-like hitting was startlingly effective and brought back memories of another left-hand opener. "It was just like you were out there with Gilly when Gilly's in one of those moods," Ponting said. "It was pretty entertaining stuff, pretty special clean sort of striking."
Warner, 22, entered the match as the first man in 132 years to debut for Australia in any format without a first-class appearance to his name. He typically only gets opportunities in matches longer than one day when he is playing grade cricket or for the New South Wales Second XI.
It was hardly surprising that in front of 62,148 fans he had stage fright when he walked out at the top of the innings. What was incredible was how quickly the nerves disappeared.
An initial boundary off Makhaya Ntini that only just cleared mid-on gave him so much confidence - after that he felt set. He was so relaxed by the time the Test destroyer Dale Steyn entered the attack in the sixth over that he audaciously flicked him over fine leg for six first ball and with his next delivery pulled a murderous six over midwicket.
"I saw him in the Test series, he was really hitting the wicket," Warner said. "I just thought to myself if he's going to hit the wicket I'm going to chance my arm. When I saw fine leg up and I was able to play that shot I don't usually play, it was just simply amazing."
The fans were not the only ones entranced; South Africa's captain Johan Botha had few answers to a man his players had seen very little of before the match began. Eventually Warner fell when he holed out to long-on, but by then the damage was done.
"It got tough out there," Botha said. "The guys got all worked up and running all over the place. But we're quite a young team out there so the guys were a bit like a rabbit in the headlights out there. It was tough out there, it was tough to keep everyone going."
Botha knows his team must develop a plan quickly or else risk Warner demolishing them in Brisbane again on Tuesday. He will be the happiest man in Australia if Warner doesn't get rushed into the ODI squad.