Centurion David Warner says a combined and calculated hard-at-it approach in the first 10 overs is the key to his extraordinarily successful opening-wicket alliance with Travis Head in ODIs as Australia celebrated their latest hammering of South Africa.
Warner and Head now average a Bradman-esque 100.55 as an opening pair after bludgeoning South Africa’s bowlers for a 109-run union to set up Australia’s comprehensive 123-run win in the second ODI at Bloemfontein on Saturday (Sunday morning AEST), securing a 2-0 series lead.
To put those numbers into context, Warner and longtime partner Aaron Finch averaged 47.94 as an opening pair, while Australia’s most prolific opening duo, Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden, averaged 47.44.
Warner and Head’s output together virtually doubles that of iconic West Indian duo Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes (52.55), and India’s legendary Sachin Tendulkar and Saurav Ganguly (49.32).
“He (Head) had a bit of a crack at me for the last game, getting out on zero,” Warner laughed after bouncing back with a brilliant knock of 106.
“It killed our partnership average, he said.
“We know each other’s game plan very well … we’re trying to put pressure back on the bowlers.
“We saw the lack of intent from South Africa (1-25 after 10 overs) the game before.
“Our goal is always to try to target the first 10 and get off to a good start.
“From there, try to build a partnership outside of the powerplay.”
Warner became the second Australian after Ricky Ponting to notch 20 ODI tons as he and in-form Marnus Labuschagne, with a career-best 124, added 151 for the second wicket to underpin Australia’s 8-392, their third-highest ODI total.
Labuschagne, named player of the match for the second time in a row following his matchwinning 80no in the first match, has flourished since replacing Cameron Green as a concussion substitute in the opening game and is making a late push to be included in Australia’s World Cup squad.
“Marnus played extremely well,” Warner said.
“He’s in a good spot – the game’s about taking opportunities.
“He’s batting very, very well.”
In their reply, the Proteas crunched 81 off the first nine overs but couldn’t sustain the hot pace required and were bowled out for 269.
Four South Africans – David Miller (49), Heinrich Klaasen (49), captain Temba Bavuma (46) and Quinton de Kock (45) – settled in but none went on to post the big ton that the huge chase demanded.
Legspinner Adam Zampa (4-48) and recalled seamer Nathan Ellis (2-32) led the tourists’ charge with the ball, well supported by Sean Abbott (2-50) and debutant Aaron Hardie (2-62).
Australia can sew up the five-match series with a win at Potchefstroom on Tuesday.