David Warner could emerge as player of the World Cup following his 12-month ban as he threatens to break Sachin Tendulkar’s 16-year-old record for the most runs in a single edition of the tournament.
Warner will enter Thursday’s semi-final against England as the fourth most prolific scorer at a World Cup as he and Rohit Sharma battle it out to be 2019’s top batsman.
The pair, along with Aussie quick Mitchell Starc and Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, are also contenders to take out the major individual prize at the tournament.
After more than a year out of international cricket, Warner’s 638 runs at 79.75 is the most he’s ever scored in a one-day series and is his third best average.
Indian great Tendulkar amassed 673 runs at the 2003 World Cup in South Africa, ahead of Matthew Hayden’s 659 four years later in the West Indies.
But worryingly for England, Warner is seemingly harder than ever to get out.
While his game is built around fast scoring and high totals, he has shown he now has the gears to build his innings while still going at a run a ball.
He has been dismissed just once every 89 balls he has faced, having taken some of the more risky shots outside off stump out of his game early.
He has also seemingly risen to the occasion after being scratchy early in the World Cup, with Saturday’s century against South Africa his third of the competition.
“He’s a big-game player. He loves the big stage, so it is an exciting time,” captain and opening partner Aaron Finch said.
“He played magnificent (against South Africa). The way that he structured his innings was really important.
“It’s never easy when you are losing wickets at the other end to map out your innings and navigate your way through some really difficult periods.
But he showed his absolute class today and it was an unbelievable knock to get 122. I think that was as good an innings as he could have played.’’
The left-hander’s return to form shouldn’t come as a big shock, considering he hit more than 2200 runs at an average of above 50 in Twenty20 leagues and grade cricket in his year away.
Warner’s collaboration with Finch will be crucial against England on Thursday, after the pair hit one of their three century stands from the tournament against the hosts a fortnight ago.
Finch has hit seven of his 15 career hundreds against England, including an even 100 earlier in the tournament.
Meanwhile, South Africa’s captain Faf du Plessis has backed Australia to keep its perfect World Cup semi-finals record intact, declaring it and India favourites for the title.
India plays New Zealand in the other semi-final on Tuesday, entering as the form team. The Black Caps have lost three in a row.
“Australia and India has proven it time and time again. They are teams that win big games,” du Plessis said.
“It’s hard to look past Australia and the success they’ve had in winning World Cups, as much as we would like to say we want to compete with that.
“That confidence is just like an extra player on your team.
“They’ve got a tough game in the semi-final. They would probably prefer playing against New Zealand, so I would say one of Australia or India (are favourites).”
MOST RUNS IN A WORLD CUP
Sachin Tendulkar (2003): 673
Matthew Hayden (2007): 659
Rohit Sharma (2019): 647
David Warner (2019): 638
Shakib Al Hasan (2019): 606