David Warner’s brief return from injury for Australia has sparked concerns about his fitness after an uncomfortable stay at the crease to open the third Test on Thursday.
Australia won the toss and opted to bat at the SCG, throwing the recovering batsman and debutant Will Pucovski into the middle against India.
Pucovski looked assured as he faced the first over of the match but it all came undone for Warner in a matter of minutes.
The 34-year-old Warner fell edging to first slip after attempting to drive hard at a ball outside off stump.
On his return from a five-week break the opener had winced in pain as he took off for a quick single early, and he never appeared comfortable before he was dismissed for five runs.
In a piece of footage you can watch in the video above, cricket great Ricky Ponting noticed “there was a bit more of a grimace” than expected in Warner’s face.
“I think everyone knew that he probably wasn’t going to be 100 per cent coming into the Test match,” Ponting told Channel 7 after the batsman was dismissed.
“The only thing I hope is that he hasn’t tweaked it again, doing something more there. It was pretty much from that moment on that those loose shots started.
“So hopefully it wasn’t playing on his mind, hopefully he’s ok and hopefully we can just say that that’s the way David Warner plays a shot like that early on in a Test match.”
Speaking during a rain delay, paceman Mitchell Starc said Warner seemed “pretty fine” afterwards and did not need to ice the injury.
But a theory remained that Warner’s mindset with the bat may have changed after he first felt pain.
“There was one run he took and he was grimacing,” former Test batsman Michael Slater said.
“You could just see him hobbling towards the end, which is not a good sign. He didn’t last out there too much longer.
“But it looks like he’s in pain to me, which means he’s not 100 per cent, he’s gone with 80 per cent to play, and he was looking to take those quick singles.”
While the dismissal and rain delays allowed Warner plenty of rest on a day he may have expected to be out in the middle for hours, his job this weekend is unlikely to get any easier.
Former opening partner Chris Rogers noted India would be unlikely to grant any request for a hobbled Warner to be replaced by a substitute fielder in their innings.
Warner had previously flagged that he would be somewhat restricted during the SCG Test.
“When it comes to these tendon issues, they hang around for quite a while and it’s quite hard to get through that pain threshold,” he said.
Australian coach Justin Langer and captain Tim Paine both backed the left-hander to push through the pain barrier.
“He’s going to be playing with pain,” Langer said earlier this week.
“He’s willing to take that on and hopefully it won’t hamper him too much. We’re confident it’s not something he can re-injure … we wouldn’t take that risk of him re-injuring himself.”
– with AAP