In his first international match after the one-year ban for ball tampering, David Warner carved out an unbeaten 89 off 114 balls to give Australia a seven-wicket win in their World Cup 2019 opener. The bowlers had bowled Afghanistan out for 207, and Australia chased that down in just 34.5 overs.
Warner, who was declared the Man of the Match, was tentative at the start of his innings before growing more assured. He admitted that his long absence from the 50-over format had played a part in his slow start.
"I think it was just nerves getting back into the camp, and getting back into the full intensity of training," Warner said at the post-match presentation. "I was a little bit more relaxed when Finchy (Aaron Finch) started going. But look, to come out here and bowl the way that we did, probably set the tone from Ball 1 for us with the bat… there is a great energy and a great buzz about this team at the moment.
"The way that I started out there - playing Twenty20 cricket over the last sort of 12 to 14 months - I hadn't really moved my feet at all. So to get back into rhythm out there, start moving in the right direction, getting my head over the ball - that was just great to get out there and do that. As a positive, for us, it's about getting past this first victory and move on to the West Indies."
Warner put on 96 in 16.2 overs for the opening wicket, with Finch smashing 66 off 49. But Warner ground his way through a patchy first half to ensure he was there at the end, earning praise from his captain and opening partner.
"I think he was struggling for the first half of his innings there," Finch said. "He struggled to time the ball and his feet weren't really going, so the fact that he kept hanging in there and hanging in there… you always have to remember that it's going to be harder for a new batter to come in. So that was great for him, to just keep on and do that job really well for us and be not out at the end."
Warner acknowledged the importance of the top order getting runs, with the trend so far in this World Cup being of the quicker bowlers scything through teams. "Us batters like to see that," Warner said. "We know the bowlers always say that one-day cricket is always a batsman's game. But two new balls over here, there's a bit of swing for the fast bowlers, but you saw out and out quicks going through the top order. For us as batters, we've just got to hold our nerve a little bit, play normal cricket shots and get into our innings."