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Openers haven’t shown intent but I’ll live & die by the sword: Warner

Australia and India openers have not shown the intent, urgency, and bravery to put opposition bowlers under pressure, David Warner said on Saturday while adding that he will bat aggressively if he gets to play the third Test in Sydney beginning January 7.

“If you allow them to dictate terms and if you don’t apply any pressure, then it becomes difficult to score. In the last two Tests, from both teams there has been a lack of urgency at the top in trying to take it to the bowlers a little and having that intent,” said Warner while speaking to the media on Saturday.

Australia in particular, without Warner opening, have been very slow to get off the blocks in the two Tests. The first innings of the first Test saw both Matthew Wade and Joe Burns add 16 runs in 14 overs while in the second Test, both Burns and Wade added 10 in just over four overs in the first innings and four in three overs in the second innings.

The slow start has let the pressure build on middle-order batsmen, especially in the case of Aussies, on Steve Smith as well as No. 3 Marnus Labuschagne as they have mostly walked in with very few runs on the board.

India too has struggled to get good starts especially with Mayank Agarwal going into a shell and getting dismissed for little scores after doing the hard work while facing the new ball. India’s highest partnership for the first wicket has been 16.

“It is loud calling (for runs), it is the way your shoulders are back here, you are sort of in the bowlers’ face you are trying to upset their line and length… whether to drive on the up, to allow the ball to come, to drop and run, apply that pressure. I think there is a little bit of that, that was missing. It is not just from our side but from both sides, which is why I say in Test cricket you can’t allow great attacks to dictate terms,” said Warner while explaining what he meant by intent.

“It has its challenges, sometimes you have to play outside the square and be a little bit brave and I have always said that I’d rather go down swinging than sitting on the crease. I think if I am able to get up and get out there, I will have that intent as I always have. Applying a little bit of pressure can release a bit of tension and help your partner. That is the pressure you need to apply back,” said the 34-year-old opening batsman who missed the first two Tests due to groin injury and is uncertain ahead of the third Test.

“Both attacks have bowled so well that batsmen have got into that ‘okay let’s bat out time’ mode and then obviously that has dictated the run rate… If the attack is going well, you got to have to play a shot somewhere. Whether or not you get out or hit that for a boundary… I live by the sword and die by the sword when I am out with the bat,” he added.

Warner’s strike rate in Test cricket is close to 73 and he has scored 24 centuries and 30 fifties in 84 Tests. He takes pride in playing aggressively and adds that his 84 Tests have all been about putting the bowling under pressure right from the start.

“I talk about body language, about intent. It is not about going out there and talking to them with the willow. It is about having intent and building pressure back on the bowlers that way. It is not about going out there and swinging the bat. There are other ways of showing intent and putting pressure on them which can lead to the full-pitched ball, short-pitched ball, and which we can try to pull and cut. That is what I mean when I say applying pressure. It is not just going there and playing your shots.”

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