It is surprising how one change can transform a team. After losing their first six games, the Delhi Daredevils asked David Warner to come down the order. The move clicked, as the Australian found form and with it Delhi appear to be a different side from the one languishing at the bottom of the table in the first half of the Indian T20 League.
When the Daredevils are hosted by the Sunrisers Hyderabad at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Uppal on Saturday in another must-win tie, a lot will depend on how Warner anchors the innings.
Coming off two straight wins against the Kolkata Knight Riders and Pune Warriors India, Delhi are on a high — a massive credit for which must go to the Australian.
From being a brash, young batsman, who was equally capable of exploding, or imploding, Warner has come a long way.
In his brief tenure at the top, Warner has realised that modifying ones game to fit into a situation is the key to success.
It was four years ago at the Melbourne Cricket Ground that the then 22-year-old Warner announced his arrival at the top with a blazing 89 on his T20I debut against Dale Steyn & Co. The left-handed opener won Australia the game and forced people to take note of him.
However, for the next three years, Warner was branded a T20 specialist. The slam-bang nature of his game did not help, as he would often be back in the dugout before a lot of spectators had even settled down.
With time, Warner changed his game — the desire to play Test cricket demanded more maturity. Warner understood that buying time at the start of the innings would help him become more consistent.
That he could wait and tear into the opposition once he had his eye in helped Warner make the conscious change in his game.
In December 2011, he wore the Baggy Green for the first time. And in March 2012, Warner scored his first ODI century, against Sri Lanka. The year 2013 was turning out to be a bit difficult for Warner.
After a fracture to his left thumb, he struggled to get the kind of scores his country expected from him on their tour to India — in four Tests, he scored 195 runs at an average of 24.37. His poor form at the top did not help, as Australia were drubbed 0-4.
With the end of a depressing Test series, it was time for the T20 carnival.
But his torrid time with the bat continued, even as the Daredevils seemed to have forgotten how to win.
Change of scenery
The Warner-Sehwag combination at the top was not helping the team. Skipper Mahela Jayawardene, who enjoys opening the innings in T20s, had to come lower down the order. With the team staring at a wooden-spoon finish, the management brought Warner down the order.
"We asked David if he could bat lower down at maybe four and he was okay with it. We thought that would help our combination," said Warner's teammate Umesh Yadav. "Luckily for us, he has done well and helped us win."
While Warner had never done it before in limited-over internationals, he allowed his senior teammates, Sehwag and Jayawardene, to open and the team went on to win three of the next four games. The move worked in the New South Wales batsman's favour as well — 66 not out, 51 not out, and 40 in his last three innings.
He has been sticking to the same plan, of taking his time before marauding the opposition.