LONDON • David Warner was a happy man and a thankful husband after his first ton - since he returned from a one-year ban for ball-tampering - helped Australia to a 41-run win over Pakistan at the Cricket World Cup on Wednesday.
After edging Shaheen Afridi between the wicketkeeper and slip for four, Warner kissed the badge on his helmet and glanced briefly to the sky.
This was a moment he had feared - during his darkest periods, the times of tearful apologies - that he would never experience again.
"There was always that in my mind," the 32-year-old said of his absence. "That's what drove me, to keep being fit, to keep scoring runs in Twenty20 tournaments.
"Going through those tough times to put myself in the best position to come back to international cricket, I did everything I could."
The left-hander, who struggled for fluency early in the campaign, made 107, his first hundred in Australia colours since an Ashes century against England in 2017.
His return to international duty, though, had not been smooth-sailing, and Warner said that his wife Candice had been his "rock" and his driving force.
"She's unbelievable. She's determined, disciplined, selfless," he said. "She's a strong woman. She got me out of bed a lot in those first 12 weeks, got me back running and training hard."
In front of a raucous crowd dominated by Pakistan fans in Taunton, Warner was key to defending champions Australia's third win in four matches, an opening partnership of 146 in 22 overs with Aaron Finch paving the way to a total of 307.
It would prove too many for the skittish batsmen of Pakistan, who meet India at Old Trafford on Sunday after one win in four. Needing a manageable 172 from the last 25 overs, they self-destructed 15 balls later with the loss of three wickets.
Warner's innings provided a swift riposte to concerns - aroused during the previous game, a defeat by India last Sunday - that the need to curb the more combative elements of his personality may be compromising his aggression with the bat.
His sluggish half-century at the Oval had put his side behind the clock, an accusation seldom levelled at Warner.
There was an indication that his culpability in the run-out of Finch had played a part in the excessive restraint he had shown.
"He was really honest, said he was more timid than normal," Pat Cummins, the pace bowler, said.
"I know that run-out with Finchy knocked him around a bit."
An indication, then, that Warner is desperate not to let down the teammates who have readmitted him. "We were so pumped for him," said Cummins, whose team play Sri Lanka tomorrow.
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