David Warner made his return to cricket on Wednesday in Australia's win over India in the third ODI, but his selection to bat in the middle order sparked more questions than answers. Australia defeated India to clinch a 2-1 series win despite the hosts appearing in control at 2-146 in response to Australia's total of 269.
India suffered a stunning collapse when Adam Zampa (4-45) and Ashton Agar (2-41) turned the match in Australia's favour with a spin masterclass. Australia's innings was set up brilliantly with openers Mitchell Marsh and Travis Head blasting 10 boundaries and three sixes before they were dismissed for 47 and 33 respectively.
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With the two in-form players opening the batting once again it meant Warner was relegated down the order upon his return. For the first time in his 14-year ODI career, Warner batted at No.4 for Australia.
It marked just the second time Warner hasn't opened the batting in his 142-game career for Australia, with the last time coming against Scotland in the 2015 World Cup. And while Australia was looking for Warner to steady the fall of wickets including Steve Smith and Marsh, he only managed 23 runs off 31 balls before he was dismissed by Kuldeep Yadav.
Warner's demotion down the order at 36 years old - and struggling for form in the longer format - has once again raised questions about his future. Warner has maintained strong form in white-ball cricket, which has also seen him average 55.86 during his time in India.
However, the opening pair of Head and Marsh performing well has raised questions for selectors heading into the World Cup in India later this year. While no one has scored more runs than Warner since the start of 2022 - 575 runs with an average of 41.07 - Head has averaged 64.14.
Marsh has also matched Warner's average, with 336 runs of his own. Both Head and Marsh have also scored at a quicker rate than the veteran opener.
This raises the question on whether selectors will take the emerging partnership of Head and Marsh into the World Cup, or fall back on the veteran Warner. If Warner does not opening the batting, questions will be raised on whether there is a spot for him further down the order with Smith, Labuschagne, Marcus Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell all in the mix.
Fans were left perplexed about the move to play Warner at No.4 and questioned whether he will be on the plane to India come World Cup time.
After batting at No.4 for the first time in his ODI career, David Warner scored just 23 runs on his ODI return.
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— CricTracker (@Cricketracker) March 22, 2023
That's an absolute shocker from David Warner.
— Dan Cancian (@dan_cancian) March 22, 2023
David warner is finished..better join commentary box with his partner finch
— Adarsh Vardhan (@Adarsh9500) March 22, 2023
David Warner should call it a day now and bid farewell to international cricket this tour has been a nightmare for him 🤦♂️
— Aftab SIKANDAR (@AftabSikandar) March 22, 2023
It's a bit of a challenge trying to fit David Warner into Australia XIs these days. Lots of uncertainty. #INDvAUS
— CricBlog ✍ (@cric_blog) March 22, 2023
Just the 2nd time David Warner has not opened in an ODI. Not sure why you would want to do that considering his limitations against spin.
— Mayank (@freehit_mj) March 22, 2023
I don't see David Warner making it to the squad that flies to ODI WC '23. It seems that hunger for runs that was once there, is missing. After that 300, I haven't seen the fire.
— Yashesh Vijay Rajyaguru (@yasheshr8_) March 22, 2023
Aussies already demoting David Warner to 4th spot, the end is near for him.
— Ta Ailer (@_Ailer__) March 22, 2023
Warner will now turn his attention to the World Test Championship final at The Oval, where question marks remain over whether the opener will be selected to play in the final and the Ashes over in England.
Adam Zampa runs riot in final ODI match
India appeared to be in control of the match in Chennai when they lost their last eight wickets for 101 runs, as well as 6-79 in a devastating period. Zampa was named man of the match after claiming the wickets of Shubman Gill (37), KL Rahul (32), Hardik Pandya (40) and Ravindra Jadeja (18) as the Aussies won by 21 runs and secured a 2-1 series victory.
In doing so they leapfrogged India and re-claimed the World No.1 ranking in ODIs. "It's always fun bowling with Zamps," Agar said after the match. "We're great mates. We have a pretty good time out there.
"We usually have a whisky in his room most nights and discuss how we're going to go about it. It paid off for us today."
Zampa was humble in his assessment of the game and claimed his fellow spinner could have been awarded man-of-the-match honours. "Ashton Agar, he changed the game," Zampa said afterwards.
"I don't feel like I deserve this (man of the match) to be honest with you. For me to be able to do what I did at the end, it's kudos to the guys who bowled before me."
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