David Warner is elite fit, he’s playing at a different level now: Justin Langer

David Warner made a welcome return to form on Saturday, smashing an unbeaten 89 — the highest score by an Australian at a T20 World Cup — in an eight-wicket victory against West Indies.

Australia coach Justin Langer on Sunday hailed explosive opener David Warner’s work ethic and hunger for runs, saying he was never in doubt about his ability to come good in the ongoing T20 World Cup despite struggling for form ahead of the tournament.

The 35-year-old Warner had been short of game time and runs over the past 12 months but made a welcome return to form on Saturday, smashing an unbeaten 89 — the highest score by an Australian at a T20 World Cup — in the eight-wicket victory against the West Indies.

“He (Warner) is literally elite fit. He’s always fit, but he’s at a different level at the moment and that tells me … you don’t just flick a switch and become fit, you’ve got to work very hard at his age,” Langer said.

“You saw the way he played, ran between the wickets in hot conditions, and that’s a great tribute to his professionalism and how hungry he is to keep playing great cricket,” he was quoted as saying in cricket.com.au website.

Having Warner back to his best can make the Australians a difficult proposition for any opponent in the knockout stage.

Australia qualified for the semifinals as Group 1 runners-up on the basis of better net run rate than South Africa, who ended third and eliminated from the tournament despite beating toppers England on Saturday.

England, Australia and South Africa ended with eight points each and top two in the table was decided on the basis of net run rate.

Langer and his great friend Matthew Hayden, who forged one of cricket’s best opening partnerships, will become enemies for a likely semifinal clash between Australia and Pakistan. Hayden is currently the batting coach of Pakistan.

Pakistan have been the dominant team of the tournament and they are likely to finish Group 2 winners — if they beat minnows Scotland — which will set them up against Australia in the semifinals.

“We’ve been back and forth messaging throughout the tournament. He’s (Hayden) really enjoying (coaching Pakistan’s batters). No insights though, we’ve been keeping business to business,” Langer said.

“It’s going to be good to see him because I haven’t seen him for a long time. There’s lots of relationships in cricket, but when it comes to Thursday night, we’ll put our friendships down for three hours and we’ll get down to business so it should be good fun.”

Langer and Hayden opened the batting together in 113 Test innings, smashing 5655 runs at an average 51.88 during a golden era of Australian cricket.

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