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Warner & Bairstow: Cricket's new bromance


David_Warner_Jonny_Bairstow_Sunrisers_Hyderabad_England_Australia_IPL_CricketHow striking is the Aussie-English combination of David Warner-Jonny Bairstow in IPL 2019?

Ahead of the 2013 Ashes, Warner punched Bairstow's Yorkshire and England teammate Joe Root.

Four years later, Bairstow 'headbutted' Warner's former opening partner, Cameron Bancroft, on a night before the Gabba Test. The incident was disclosed during the Test when Warner sledged Bairstow about the same: "You shouldn't headbutt our mates." The then Aussie vice-captain did that to make the batsman uncomfortable and he was successful, because an awkward Bairstow threw away his wicket soon after that.

In the third Test of the same series, when Bairstow clinched his maiden Test hundred against Australia, he celebrated by headbutting his helmet.

Not even in dreams would one have thought one would watch the two hug each other with joyous emotions showing on their face. The unexpected happened in 2019 - another Ashes year - when Warner and Bairstow became the opening partners for Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in the Indian Premier League.

When they played their first match together for SRH, against Kolkata Knight Riders, they struck-off instantly and ended up recording a 100-run stand. Although SRH lost, it was just the beginning of a beautiful bond that would put any notions of the eternal Aussie-English rivalry behind them. Warner and Bairstow went on to become the first opening pair in the IPL to register three back-to-back 100-run stands in SRH's next two games against Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), which SRH won.

The match against RCB, in particular, was more special as the pair each registered a century and SRH humiliated the opponents with a victory by 118 runs. They ended up producing the highest opening partnership in the IPL – 185 runs – and the sixth highest for any wicket. While SRH's first two games saw Warner leading the way, the fixture against RCB witnessed Bairstow going berserk with the bat.

Overall, these two have been appreciated for their fantastic running between the wickets, which has been one of the reasons why they have managed to put instant pressure on the opposition, especially during the powerplay overs.

Warner and Bairstow are almost never separated in the powerplay overs. Warner, the current Orange Cap holder, has scored as many as 144 runs out of his total of 341 so far in the first phase of the match, which is the powerplay overs. He has mostly targeted the right-arm pace against whom he has scored a total of 83 runs so far in IPL 2019 in the first six overs. On the other hand, Bairstow has scored 128 runs off his 263 runs in the IPL 2019 in the powerplay overs.

Warner and Bairstow not only read the game well, but also each other's. Accordingly, they have gone about the plan of action. They have so far complemented each other almost in every aspect. In the first six overs, Warner's boundary percentage against off-spin is 50 percent, while Bairstow has charged against leg-break with 36.36 percent. When they were dismissed in the powerplay overs, Bairstow fell to spinners, while Warner got out to a pacer.

If they began well in an innings, their strike-rate has gone to the next level by the time the middle-overs came. However, the left-arm orthodox and unorthodox spinners have managed to restrain the scoring of these two in the middle-overs. Warner and Bairstow have gone after the regular off-spinners and legspinners. During the final stages of a match, which Warner has played more than Bairstow, the Aussie has hammered every bowler that came to his way and has managed to keep his strike 150 or more in the final four overs of the innings.

While it is Bairstow's first season in the IPL, Warner has been around for six years now and has made and broken several records. His numbers since his maiden 2013 season suggest that he is lethal in the powerplay overs, where he has scored 2,107 runs - almost half of his IPL career's runs. Once he settles in and reaches the final overs of the innings, he gets unstoppable and the opponents are aware of the same.

Even after missing one whole season of the IPL last year, Warner (2,928) has the most runs in the IPL since the 2014 season ahead of the likes of Virat Kohli (2,878) and IPL legend Suresh Raina (2,300). This shows how important he is for this SRH side. Before his comeback, Warner would not have thought that he would get an English partner who would be in sync with him at the top of SRH's batting line-up.

Coincidentally, Warner and Bairstow even have a similar celebration style. After scoring a century, each of them jumped in the air, pumped their fist and then roared. After Bairstow scored his maiden IPL ton, the two had an emotional hug in the middle of the ground that caught attention for all the good reasons. Considering the history of the rivalry between the two countries, it is surprising how well these two have hit it off. So much so that former England cricketer Kevin Pietersen has also teased the two about the same.

When Pietersen asked Bairstow about the hug, the latter shrugged it off as “good craic”. However, he did not hide his admiration for his Aussie partner, saying, "It’s fantastic to bat in the middle with him. He’s a fantastic player and has been for a long, long time, and that’s why he’s got the Orange Cap." Meanwhile, Warner has reciprocated by always appreciating Bairstow without any hesitation whenever the wicketkeeper-batsman has done well for SRH this season.

The bromance of these two could do wonders for cricket in the upcoming months. If Warner manages to make it to the Ashes, there would be more respect between the two teams with Warner and Bairstow in their respective dugouts. The Ashes could witness fewer ugly sledges. Whatever happens, the two know, there will always be Hyderabad, where this special bond began.

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