Eight years back, a young David Warner walked out to open for Australia in a T20 International against South Africa at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. With zero First-class games under his belt, the southpaw was a virtual unknown, except to the selectors who picked him seeing his bubbling potential.
He had the home fans thrilled and the South Africans stunned in a brilliant show of power-hitting as he smashed 89 off just 43 balls to power Australia to a victory. There has been no looking back since for the current Australian Test vice-captain.
From a dangerous, powerful slogger Warner transformed into a terrific attacking Test batsman while maintaining his prowess in the T20 format. Not once has he looked out of place in International Cricket since that memorable debut.
The IPL welcomed him but it took some time before he settled down at Sunrisers Hyderabad.
As skipper of the Hyderabad-based franchise, Warner has stood out with his outrageous knocks upfront. It eventually led his team to the title in 2016. And unsurprisingly, Warner was at the helm of it all. The Australian smashed 848 runs in the season at an average of 60.57, second only to Virat Kohli. Importantly, Warner's runs led Sunrisers to the title.
Warner's start to the IPL wasn't all that illustrious. Signed by Delhi Daredevils, Warner remained with the franchise for five years. Despite scoring a hundred in 2010, he failed to score consistently enough and racked up aggregates of 163, 282, 324 and 256 in his first four years at Delhi.
In the 2013 season, he showed signs of consistency and compiled 410 runs albeit without a hundred.
But he had already scored two of them in the league so far, one in 2010 and another in 2012. In 2014, Warner moved to the Sunrisers Hyderabad franchise and since then hasn't looked back.
His first three years at Hyderabad were quite impressive with run aggregates of 528, 562 and 848. The average hasn't gone below 43 since 2014 and although he failed to get a hundred last season, his powerful knocks were vital in Hyderabad's title win. This year, with 459 runs already, the Hyderabad skipper is the orange cap holder.
The drought of hundreds ended this season with Warner setting aside his best for the table toppers, Kolkata Knight Riders. Winning the toss and opting to bat, Warner led Hyderabad to 209 in their home ground, with a mind-boggling 126 off just 59 balls.
The hundred came in 43 deliveries against a pace attack that had the Royal Challengers Bangalore, boasting the likes of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, succumb to 49 all out a few days back.
Warner's feats are all the more impressive if one considers the fact that the Australian had recently endured some tough times against India in the Tests prior to the tournament. However, Warner the T20 player wasn't affected by his failures in the Tests here and came out to bat for Hyderabad in his usual, expressive manner.
The manner in which he took apart Kuldeep Yadav, one bowler who had troubled him immensely in the Tests, shows the kind of player Warner is.
Batting strengths and scoring areas
Warner is particularly strong off his back foot and square of the wicket. A compulsive hooker, Warner takes on anything and everything short and ensures he maximises timing with power every single time.
Although a pretty good player square of the wicket, Warner is never reluctant to step onto the front foot as and when the ball is pitched up. The southpaw is superb in piercing the slightest of gaps on the off-side with deft timing, a trait rather surprising for a powerful and attacking batsman like him.
A superb player down the ground, Warner hit three sixes and two fours straight over the bowler's head in the hundred against Kolkata two days back. Six of his fours came square of the wicket on the off-side while he also smacked three sixes through mid-wicket off powerful slog shots.
The scoring areas of the Australian are pretty evident - either side of the deep point on the off-side, mid-wicket and straight down the ground are three major areas where Warner loves to score his runs.
Warner, the skipper
While his primary job in the IPL was of a powerful fear factor at the top of the order, that role has transformed over the years. From being the anchor to the skipper of the franchise, Warner has done it all, and quite impressively.
As skipper of the Sunrisers Hyderabad, David Warner has ensured he gets most of his decisions spot on, a major factor behind their title win in 2016. Although deputy to Steven Smith in the Australian setup, Warner has shown that he lacks little in the captaincy requirements column with the manner in which he has led Hyderabad in the IPL.
His decision to hand Rashid Khan, the young Afghanistan leg-spinner, the ball within the powerplay overs proved to be a masterstroke as he bamboozled batsmen with turn and bounce while sticking to a tight line.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, previously used as an opening bowler by most franchises, has been used as a death bowler by Warner and the results have been ominous. The Indian swing bowler has been pinpoint with his yorkers and taken a handful of wickets at the death.
Warner has stood out as a captain in his stint thus far, both with team selections and on-field decisions. A hotheaded Australian, the opening batsman has kept aside his aggressive style in the IPL, resorting to a more matured approach that has seen him become a real leader for his men.
The confidence from Warner has rubbed off on quite a few of the Sunrisers players including Shikhar Dhawan, Moises Henriques and Kane Williamson. His words in the post-match talk with mentor, VVS Laxman, show the kind of change in David Warner.
"What we are about is entertaining the crowds and the fans. We want everyone to keep turning up and watching this great game of ours. If we can be great ambassadors for that, this game is going to be in good stead for the future", Warner had said while talking to Laxman after his third IPL hundred against Kolkata in Hyderabad two days back.