David Warner will look back at the first three matches of this riveting India vs Australia Test series with a tinge of sadness. Not because his team hasn't done well, but the real David Warner hasn't stood up so far.
With scores of 38, 10, 33, 17, 19 and 14, the marauding Warner, who scores runs for fun in Australia and in most limited-overs games, just hasn't shown up.
As those scores suggest, though, it's not as if he is getting out really early. There are some decent scores in there, it's just that, the moment a spinner comes in to bowl, the thought-process changes, the mind goes a little blank, the willow isn't used as much anymore and the inevitable outcome is a forlorn walk back to the pavilion.
His dismissal in the second innings in Ranchi was a microcosm of what Waner's thinking is like at the moment – should I go full Warner and go whack, whack, whack or should I try and play a little more defensive.
The dismissal that got him was a ball from Ravindra Jadeja that hit the rough and went through the left-hander's gate. Warner wasn't sure what to do with the delivery, go fully forward and defend or go fully back or even play an attacking stroke.
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That's what happens to batsmen, when they struggle to find runs in certain conditions, with articles being left, right and centre about him not being good enough to play on these pitches, or him needing to quell his aggression or keep playing his natural game.
You read so many things – and no matter what the players say, they are always aware of what is being said and written about them – and your mind becomes even more muddled.
What Warner must do is go back and look at some of the videos of the IPL, where he has played some of the best knocks of all-time in the tournament. Go back and think through the training sessions and practices he went through in the UAE, where Australia had a camp set up just to get ready for this India series.
Go back and talk to the people you trust and ask them to be honest when they say what is wrong and what needs to change. Go and talk to some of the Indian players as well, past and present to see if there is some advice he can take on board.
But most of all, Warner needs to just back instincts – if Warner is better off going into full Warner mode – attack, attack and then some more attack, with a sprinkling of defence thrown in there – then Warner must do just that. It's not as if the runs are coming anyway, so he might as well go full Warner on India.
What could work in the opener's favour for this final Test match are the conditions. It will be cooler, the wicket should have more pace and the spinners might not come into play as much, at least not for the first three days.
Even if the pitch turns out to be another low and slow one – India are likely to ask for a wicket that suits them, as they should, considering they are the home team – Dharamsala might just be Warner's redemption Test, where he shows he isn't just a flat-track, drop-in pitch bully; he can be a bully in all conditions – smash, bang, wallop, defend, defend some more and then go smash, bang wallop again.
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