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Warner braces for big grind in Sri Lanka

Wisden India logo Wisden India 25-07-2016
Dashing opener David Warner harps on patience, but insists he won’t alter his game plan significantly. © AFP Photo/Lakruwan Wanniarachchi Dashing opener David Warner harps on patience, but insists he won’t alter his game plan significantly.

With the poor recent record away in the subcontinent (and the UAE) very much on their minds, the Australians have identified patience on the part of the batsmen as the key to success during the series of three Tests in Sri Lanka, starting with the first fixture in Pallekele on Tuesday (July 26).

So well has the mantra been drilled into the players’ minds that even David Warner, who has scored his 4506 Test runs in 51 games at a strike rate of 76.92, has started to chant it.

Warner did not play in the Australians’ only warm-up game due to his ongoing recovery from a broken left index finger, sustained during the recent One-Day International tri-series in the Caribbean, but was in line to make the playing XI for the first Test.

“You’ve got to be patient,” he was quoted as saying by after going through a training session at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium on Sunday, a session in which he batted against the squad’s battery of pacers without any obvious discomfort.

“You’ve got to rotate the strike. Your patience comes with hitting your four balls, your boundary balls. They are the ones you’ve got to really wait on. That’s what we’re talking about with patience in this game, especially over here (in slow and low Sri Lankan conditions). The challenge for us is about batting long periods of time. You’ve got to be able to bat well into the next day and that’s the focus for us.”

Warner, however, wasn’t about to change his stripes altogether, saying that he wouldn’t be changing his natural game much. “If I have to bat for a day or a day-and-a-half, I go out there and I try to do that. But the element of my game is to try to score runs,” he reasoned. “I try to apply pressure on the bowlers and that has always been my game plan. That’s what I always set out to do and I probably won’t change that.”

With Rangana Herath, the veteran left-arm spinner, as Sri Lanka’s No. 1 bowling threat, the Australians expect pitches to aid spin, and might themselves field both Nathan Lyon, the offspinner, and Steve O’Keefe, the left-arm spinner.

A battle of attrition is what Warner was expecting. “With stamina likely to play as significant a role as skill,” he pointed out. “Whoever is the fittest team will probably win these games. You’re going to have to be prepared for some boring fields. Both teams are going to use that. You’re going to have your sweepers out there, especially (against) the spin … so you have to be prepared to get your runs in ones and twos. It can be like that in these conditions.

“Unless you’re going to blast them out of the park with the bat or your quicks somehow manage to go through them on low tracks, it is going to be a big grind.”

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