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'Patient' Warner masters unfamiliar grind

David Warner scored the slowest hundred of his career in an uncharacteristic manner and says it gave him the confidence to score more runs in Asia

Brydon Coverdale
Brydon Coverdale
David Warner kisses his cap after completing his century, Bangladesh v Australia, 2nd Test, Chittagong, 3rd day, September 6, 2017

David Warner celebrates the slowest hundred of his Test career  •  Getty Images

If you were told that one of Australia's openers had spent six hours at the crease for 123 runs, painstakingly accumulated from 234 balls, with only seven boundaries, you would have complete confidence in declaring that the man in question would be Matt Renshaw. But you would be wrong. This was David Warner posting most un-Warner-like numbers in the first innings in Chittagong, where he put Australia into a strong position with two days to play.
This was Warner's 20th Test century - more than were made by Mark Taylor, or Michael Hussey, or Doug Walters, or Bill Lawry, or Ian Chappell, or Michael Slater, or Adam Gilchrist, all of whom played more Tests than Warner's current tally of 66. It was also the slowest hundred of his Test career, completed from his 209th delivery, and in extreme heat. And his patience has brought Australia back into the series.
"You pretty much felt in from ball one with the fields that they set, they didn't really have any attacking men around the bat compared to last game," Warner said after the day's play. "It allowed me just to rotate the strike and not really have any need to leave your crease all the time.
"At the end of the day, they try and shut down the scoreboard. They try and cut your boundaries out and play that way, try and get you caught around the crease and obviously look for that lbw dismissal or bowled through the gate. If you can negate that and you can manipulate the field, you're going to be facing a lot of balls and you've got to be prepared to bat long periods of time."
It was also Warner's second consecutive century, after his fourth-innings 112 in Mirpur last week, which he described at the time as his best innings. But for sheer single-mindedness and adaptability from his usual verve, this hundred must also be up there. "I think from a patience point of view, definitely," Warner said. "I always talk about trying to bat long periods for time in these conditions and by far that's the hottest I've ever played in. It was quite challenging to be out there. Coming off yesterday, it was every minute that I was out there.
"We were out there for 100 overs the day before. A lot of credit has to go to the two fast bowlers as well. The amount of work that they've put in, I think they've both bowled 20 overs apiece in this heat. It takes someone with some good fitness to bowl through that, definitely."
Warner's productive tour has boosted his record in Asia - he arrived for this series with only one century from 26 previous Test innings on the continent. Now, Warner believes that he might finally have found a method that can bring him success in Asia more generally.
"It's a tough environment to come out and try to play your shots and play your natural game," he said. "You have to find a way and for me it's taken almost 16, 17 Tests in these conditions to work out what my game plan is and stick to it. As I said before, they play on your ego a little bit, they shut down your runs, they shut down your boundary options, and you've got to milk the ones.
"You've got to be prepared to bat time and you've got to have the fitness edge as well to do that. That's probably the thing that's going to keep motivating me more now to show to myself that I've done that, and now moving forward I can achieve the same success that I've had so far over here moving down the line."
Warner's innings helped Australia gain a 72-run lead by stumps on the third day, though with only one wicket in hand they will aim to bump that advantage up a little further on the fourth morning. There remains plenty of work if Australia are to achieve the victory needed to level the series 1-1, but the batting work led by Warner has at least given them hope.
"It's crucial that we try and put as many runs on the board as possible," he said. "I wouldn't say the wicket is deteriorating, there's a little bit of rough out there created from the bowlers. The middle of the wicket is still nice and true. But as the spinners do, they'll work out what they need to do and hit those rough areas."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale