David Warner finds old mindset to flick switch for Australia

Shaheen Shah Afridi got off to an ordinary start, setting the tone for Australia's domination, but this was a good ball. On a length, just outside off, slight seam in, by no means a half-volley. This was the last ball of the fourth over. David Warner's right foot moved forward, he offered the ball what it deserved - a watchful defensive push - but he had got so close to it that he felt confident opening the face and placing the ball in a gap.

Wahab Riaz was on the moment he got the ball. Fourth bowler used on the day, he continually hit the bat high. The first ball of the 11th over stopped on Warner and bounced extra to take a leading edge. The third ball, to which Warner was forward, hit him on the splice of the bat. To the fourth ball - slightly shorter in length, slightly wide - Warner was in a position to cut. In the 12th over came another push-drive to a length ball that missed a fielder.

With the ball still doing something well past the drinks break, Mohammad Amir came back to beat both of Warner's edges with successive deliveries in the 23rd over. And yet he was moving forward to the next ball and looking to find a gap. In Amir's next over, Warner survived an lbw shout from another Amir beauty because his feet had got outside the line.

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You will hear a lot of analysis say how Warner was more pro-active in this innings than his two earlier half-centuries in the tournament - his two slowest ODI fifties ever - which probably means that Warner was hitting a lot of such balls straight to fielders in the previous two innings. His head and feet were not close enough to the ball to be manoeuvring it without taking risks.

Here Warner was able to access gaps because he had his feet moving and because he was looking more at hitting gaps than obsessing over hitting the ball sweetly. And when you get into that flow of placing good balls into the gaps, you invariably tend to get into positions where you can punish slight errors in length. When batsmen are in form, they do it effortlessly; here the word from the Australia management was that Warner perhaps needed a slight change in mindset.

It didn't need anyone from the outside to point it out, even though Kumar Sangakkara made an insightful critique that Warner was probably playing with too much fear of getting out. Sangakkara was not off the mark. Pat Cummins said Warner himself admitted he had been slightly timid. That he needed to get his attacking mindset back.

Cummins was asked how his team-mates can tell the old Warner is back. "Just the way his energy out there in the middle is," Cummins said. "His running. Sprinting for singles all the time. Dancing down the wicket. Playing pull shots off slightly short of a length."

That indeed was the shot that got Warner going in this innings. It was only slightly short from Afridi - hip high - and Warner was in position to pull him for four. The two half-centuries before this were scored in easier conditions than these. This was a Test-match contest with seam, swing and uneven bounce available, Warner said. India did bowl well to him - provided him no room on a used, and hence slow, surface - but this was a test by conditions. The Taunton pitch had been under covers for two days. There had been enough rain, there was enough grass, and there were enough clouds overhead for both teams to pick four fast bowlers and for Pakistan to not think twice before choosing to bowl.

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That Pakistan had a slip even when Warner was in the 90s tells you a lot about how difficult it was to bat in the first innings. It bears out in his control percentage: it was 85% in Bristol, 82% at The Oval, and 73% in Taunton. And yet Warner's strike rate went up from 78 and 67 in the first two innings to nearly a run a ball in this match.

Warner spoke about the transition. One of the most instructive things he said was that if he is looking to score, his defence takes care of itself. Here he was doing that. "Against India I hit a lot of fielders," Warner said. "As a player, you feel like you are not in a rhythm. And that's what happened. But today was one of those wickets, if you're still looking to score and your defence is tight, you'll create those opportunities for yourself. And that's what we focus on as a batter."

Whether it was the pitch that switched him on or the self-realisation of need to shed some of the timidity, Warner - as Cummins said - was on from ball one. An on Warner is a fearless Warner. A fearless Warner is a dangerous Warner. And he was disappointed he didn't bat through the innings, and left a few runs out there. Bowlers, better watch out now.