With his prolific and explosive batting, David Warner has gained cult status among Sunrisers Hyderabad supporters.
Warner is Orange Cap winner in three of the last four editions he has participated in (he didn't play the 2018 edition due to suspension). In 2019, he topped the charts with 692 runs in 12 matches; in 2017 he scored 641 runs in 14 innings and in 2015 aggregated 562 runs in 14 knocks. In 2016, he was second only to Virat Kohli with 848 runs in 17 innings. He missed the 2018 edition, serving a suspension over his role in the ball-tampering episode during Australia's tour of South Africa.
Overall, he is the all-time highest run-getter among overseas players. Only Kohli, Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma are above Warner in the IPL list. Warner though has been way more consistent. The three Indian batsmen have played at least 50 games more than him. Warner's 4,706 runs have come in 126 games; Kohli has played 177 (5,412 runs), Rohit 189 (4,902) and Raina 193 (5,368).
Whatever his form leading up to IPL, Warner is a different player when he dons the Sunrisers jersey. This time he is coming off a lean spell with Australia in the limited overs series against England. Jofra Archer gave him a tough time, removing him four out of five times in the T20s and ODIs.
The two will face off again when SRH play Rajasthan Royals. Touching down in Dubai, Warner dismissed talk of Archer having his number. "As I always say, the faster you bowl the further you go," Warner said at the end of his reply to a question on how he planned to counter Archer in the tournament.
"At the end of the day, they are going to get you out, doesn't matter if they have your measure or not. He bowled three good balls to me, I can't do anything about that just like Stuart Broad bowled about eight good balls at me (in the Ashes). When two (good) guys are at their peak at that moment, it's very difficult to unsettle that, but in the last game I batted pretty well against Archer so there is nothing to worry about," said the SRH captain.
The SRH love affair began in 2014, the first time IPL was held in the UAE—only the second half was played in India due to general elections. He was the fourth highest scorer with 528 runs. During this lockdown, Warner gained popularity in India for his social media posts dancing with family members to hit Tollywood (Telugu films) and Bollywood numbers. It started due to "pure boredom", he said. "I know a lot about Bollywood and Tollywood, I kind of have my own stuff."
"My five-year-old daughter had seen something months and months before I started, and she made me start dancing to the Bollywood and Tollywood songs. Then we decided to pick some dances from some famous scenes. It was just entertaining, I liked it and other people enjoyed it. It was good fun," Warner said.
For Australia and England players, it's moving from one bio-bubble to another, which has become the lot of athletes in this pandemic. The SRH captain said: "The next 12 months are going to be difficult for people, lot of challenges on that front. You need something that reminds you of home, of why you are there, and you need a very good bond with your teammates; that's what is important in this bio-bubble."
Some players will manage, but some may struggle. For those who struggle, it is important to raise an alarm, said Warner. "There are going to be challenges going from bubble to bubble. Mental health will be important. We all have to be smart and put our hands up if we feel things are getting challenging and we need a bit of time out."
Built partly as entertainment, it will be a strange IPL with stands empty. For India and Australia players, a series Down Under will follow IPL. Warner hopes fans will be part of that experience. "It is great for world cricket that we can play in Australia; hopefully there is going to be some crowd as well because there have been crowds at football games. I think if 25 per cent of the capacity can go and watch it will be awesome, it is going to be a great battle between two competitive teams."