David Warner believes Australia have seized momentum at the right stage of the Twenty20 World Cup after blasting his side into the semi-finals.
Warner’s unbeaten 89, the highest score by an Australian ever at a T20 World Cup, was the catalyst for an eight-wicket victory over West Indies in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.
Aaron Finch’s side will face Pakistan in their semi, provided group two’s table toppers defeat Scotland in their final pool game.
Australia progressed beyond the group stage of the tournament for the first time since 2012, although they had a nervous wait after hauling in a target of 158 with 22 balls remaining.
South Africa would have finished above Australia if they toppled England and bridged a net run-rate (NRR) gap of 0.474.
The Proteas beat England, but not by enough. They stormed to a total of 2-189 but, needing to restrict England to 131 or less, had to settle for limiting them to 8-179 despite a late hat-trick by Kagiso Rabada.
Warner shared a boundary-laden stand of 124 runs with Mitch Marsh (53), shining with the bat after Josh Hazlewood’s haul of 4-39 and more tidy work from Adam Zampa (1-20).
It was the antithesis of what unfolded a week ago, when Marsh was dropped for what proved a lopsided loss to England.
“It’s good to get one of those games out of the way,” Warner said.
“Because sometimes it happens in tournament play. Sometimes you do get hurt and you get hurt badly.
“That’s what happened … you have to forget very fast about that, keep backing your game plan.
“We are hitting the momentum in the right stage of this tournament.”
Warner, gunning for Australia’s first T20 title in the seventh edition of the event, said his side wouldn’t feel any additional pressure in their semi.
The 35-year-old, having entered this tournament after a woeful slump in the IPL, batted like a man possessed throughout his second half-century of the event.
“I know a lot of people doubted him recently and I can’t understand why,” Aaron Finch said, having won the toss and scored nine.
“He’s a super player and has been for a long time.
“The way he managed his innings (was impressive) – he got away to a flyer then was able to get Mitch Marsh into the game really quickly.”
The opener belted four sixes and hammered nine fours, picking his balls and taking few risks as he raced past 50 in 29 deliveries.
Muted celebrations of the milestone were a sign of intent to finish the job, which is what transpired when Warner clipped a ball off his pads and past Chris Gayle to bring up the winning runs.
Warner’s only lapse of note came on 80 when Gayle, asked to deliver the 16th over after the sting had gone out of the contest, created a stumping chance.
Gayle, who is yet to confirm his international retirement, and Dwayne Bravo were given a guard of honour by Australia after the game.
“He halfway retires. He still has some cricket left, I’m not sure what he’s decided,” Bravo said, cryptically shedding little light on Gayle’s future.