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News Analysis

Australians at the IPL: Smith back in the groove, Warner's Super Over frustration and Cummins' runs

As the top four teams start to pull away in the IPL here's a look back at how the Australian contingent fared over the last week

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
Smith's shuffle
Five single-figure scores for Steven Smith had brought the spotlight on him, to the extent that there were a few questions being asked about his place in the Rajasthan Royals side. It would have been a huge call to leave out the captain - and one of the world's best batsmen - and it was little surprise when Smith came good after moving to No. 4 as part of a batting shake up. He reached his half-century from 30 balls and two deliveries later produced the most astonishing shot of his innings when he played a reverse whip through point from a standing position. However, in the end his runs weren't enough for the struggling Royals who fell victim to an AB de Villiers epic. Smith's captaincy came under the microscope when he opted not to give Jofra Archer the 19th over with 35 needed, instead opting for Jaydev Unadkat who got taken for 25 to change the course of the match.
Warner left speechless
David Warner had to take a new role for Sunrisers Hyderabad in their match against Kolkata Knight Riders after Kane Williamson picked up an injury which led to him opening the batting so he could focus more on boundary-hitting than running between the wickets. It has been rare to see Warner not opening in T20 over recent years. Since an experiment with the tactic for Australia at the 2016 T20 World Cup he had done it six times across the CPL and BPL; the last time in the IPL was back in 2014. He almost got the Sunrisers across the line with his unbeaten 47 off 33 balls, but having taken three consecutive fours off Andre Russell he could only scamper a leg bye off the last delivery to tie the scores and get a Super Over. Then, walking out to face the over, he was castled first ball by Lockie Ferguson as the Sunrisers were 'bowled out' for 2. "I don't know what to say, I'll probably have to bite my tongue a little bit," Warner said.
Cummins in the runs...and a wicket
Pat Cummins was at the forefront for KKR against the Mumbai Indians...with the bat. Coming in at 61 for 5 he struck 53 off 36 balls, his maiden T20 fifty, in an unbroken stand of 87 with Eoin Morgan to at least give KKR something to bowl at, although it proved far too few in the end. It comfortably out shone his previous best of 39 for the Sydney Thunder in the 2017-18 BBL. Since making consistent lower-order Test runs in the 2018-19 Australian season, when it was pondered if he could bat higher than No. 8, Cummins' batting hasn't quite been as useful as his talent suggests it should be but he has produced some handy knocks in this IPL. Meanwhile, with the ball his wicket of Vijay Shankar in the game against the Sunrisers was his first after a run of five wicketless outings.
How much more for Carey?
Australia's limited-overs wicketkeeper, Alex Carey, has been filling the shoes of injured Rishabh Pant over the last week for Delhi Capitals. After a gap of nearly month since his brilliant ODI century against England he has found it tough going in the middle order with 32 runs from 29 deliveries. His dismissal against Chennai Super Kings may have come in the nick of time for the Capitals as the next man, Axar Patel, smashed 21 off five balls to help secure a thrilling chase. The Capitals were hopeful Pant would only be sidelined for a week, so Carey may soon find himself sidelined.
Off the bench
A couple more of the Australians finally got their chance for an outing over the last week. Nathan Coulter-Nile, who had been carrying a niggle earlier in the competition, replaced the rested James Pattinson for Mumbai Indians as one of the tournament pace-setters manages their quicks with an eye on the latter stages of the competition. It wasn't the best of starts for him as he felt the force of Cummins and Morgan with his second two overs costing 37. In the same match, Chris Green came into the KKR side and performed his usual role of opening the bowling but could do little to defend a mediocre target. With Sunil Narine now taken off the bowling-action warning list it remains to be seen how much more Green plays. It leaves Billy Stanlake, Chris Lynn and Daniel Sams as the Australians yet to feature in a match.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo