David Warner celebrates his century during day one of the third Test against India at WACA. (Getty Images)
When David Warner was airborne, punching the air in celebration after his century - the fourth fastest in Test history and the quickest by an opener - Virender Sehwag was watching the proceedings from gully.
During their respective stints for the Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League, it was Sehwag who played an important part in reigniting the hunger in Warner and suggesting that the Australian batsman keep patience to taste success in Test cricket. On Friday, things turned upside down for the two players. Sehwag once again failed with the bat, while Warner, taking a leaf out of his mentor’s book, deflated India’s hopes of making a comeback in what already seems like another disastrous tour for the visitors.
Warner announced himself on the international stage in emphatic fashion when he blasted a match-winning 42-ball 89 against South Africa in his first T20 International, and few could believe the then-22-year-old was the first man since 1877 to debut for Australia in any format without first-class experience. He finally got the Baggy Green in a recently concluded Test series against New Zealand. And although Australia lost that match, Warner vindicated the selectors’ faith by hitting a century in the second Test in Hobart.
On Friday, Warner, 25, backed his attacking instincts and played all the strokes in his repertoire. He was helped immensely by the wayward Indian bowlers, who failed to put three consecutive deliveries on one spot on the seam-friendly conditions at the WACA. The diminutive left-hander raced to his half-century in 36 balls and took another 33 to cross the hundred-run mark, his second in his brief career of five Tests.
His opening partner Ed Cowan could only watch Warner from the other end in disbelief while the latter was busy tormenting the Indian bowling. Warner's whirlwind knock also gave Cowan enough time to get his eye in before displaying his own array of strokes.
Warner took a special liking to the military-medium pace of Vinay Kumar, who is making his debut in this match, and slammed him for two huge sixes, one of which brought up his century. Warner's earlier confrontation with Ishant Sharma only added fuel to the fire as he looked more determined at the crease. The incident worsened things for India as he made the visiting fielders chase leather all round the park. His massive six (95m) over the long-on fence off Ishant only left the bowler shell-shocked.
Not even a snorter from Umesh Yadav perturbed Warner. The short-pitched ball rose sharply and hit Warner on his helmet. Warner was disturbed for a moment, but he took little time before getting his rhythm back.
The unbeaten innings by Warner could be a decisive blow for the Indians, who are once again staring down the barrel. Another humiliating defeat is well on the cards. Whether he can go as far as the likes of fellow Australian left-handed openers Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist, remains to be seen. However, with his aggressive batting, the so-called short-game specialist could well pave the way for Australia to once again cement their position at the top.
A list of the top five fastest centuries in the history of Test cricket:
56 balls - Viv Richards, West Indies vs. England, 1986
57 balls- Adam Gilchrist, Australia vs. England, 2006
67 balls- Jack Gregory, Australia vs. South Africa, 1921
69 balls- Shivnarine Chanderpaul, West Indies vs. Australia, 2003
69 balls- David Warner, Australia vs. India, 2012
70 balls- Chris Gayle, West Indies vs. Australia, 200