Australia coach Justin Langer said he "slept a lot better" after Steven Smith showed some of his best form since returning from elbow surgery with the unbeaten 89 in the second match against the New Zealand XI on Wednesday.
Smith dominated the back-end of the Australian innings, collecting 39 off his last 17 deliveries with increasingly dominant strokeplay including four sixes, three of them lofted drives and the other a pull, as he continued his recovery from the operation he had in January.
Smith found form during the latter part of his IPL stint with Rajasthan Royals, hitting three half-centuries in five innings, before making 22 in the opening match in Brisbane batting at No. 4 before his eye-catching display at No. 5.
"I certainly slept a lot better, it warmed my heart to be honest," Langer told SEN. "I watched him on the weekend, he had a nets session on Sunday night and I was sitting with a couple of coaches and I just said 'How good is this kid'. We've seen the statistics and we know the stories but when you see him first hand…[The 89] was a tutorial in batting. It's great for the team."
There remain a few question marks over Smith's ability to throw at full tilt due to his elbow, but a diving catch he took in the first match suggested progress is being made. He has also impressed the management with his general fitness levels since returning to national colours for the first time since his ban.
There were fewer form-related questions surrounding David Warner heading into the pre-tournament camp following is prolific IPL with the main debate surrounding the position he will bat. He was at No. 3 in the first match before opening with Aaron Finch in the second and Usman Khawaja in the third as all the combinations were tried.
Langer said the "obvious" choice was that Warner would open but did not go as far as to confirm that would happen following the success of the Finch-Khawaja pairing in Australia's run of eight consecutive wins against India and Pakistan.
"The obvious thing is we should [open with Warner]," Langer said. "But I think he's quite an adaptable player, too. What I've loved is the partnership between Finchy and Usman Khawaja as well. They gel really well and in the past Finch and Warner gelled really well. I'm not trying to pull the wool over anyone's eyes, but we've got really good options there."
The other question that still needs to be decided around the batting line-up is which player misses out presuming that Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis will take the five and six positions. It could be that Shaun Marsh, who scored four centuries in eight innings against England, South Africa and India does not find a spot in the side.