Hyderabad: Signing off his IPL campaign with another match-winning half-century to help Sunrisers Hyderabad take a step closer towards qualifying for the play-offs, David Warner said the cash-rich tournament is a stepping stone for the World Cup.
Playing his last match of season on Monday night before heading home for World Cup preparations, Australia's Warner struck a belligerent 81 off 56 balls to complete his IPL 2019 campaign with 692 runs, the highest so far in the tournament, and guided Sunrisers Hyderabad to a 45-run win over Kings XI Punjab.
"I am looking forward to the World Cup and this (IPL) was a stepping stone to that," the Sunrisers Hyderabad opener said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
Warner predicted high scores in the upcoming ODI World Cup in England, starting May 30.
"This World Cup, you'll see some high scores. Hopefully, the ball doesn't swing as much. Obviously, England are the home team and they're great. We are the reigning champions and for us it is going out there backing our abilities and being our best selves," he said.
Warner along with Steve Smith were handed 12-month bans by Cricket Australia for their role in ball-tampering in South Africa last year, a punishment which both the players have already served.
Post the ban, Warner was in imperious form in the ongoing IPL and is the current 'Orange Cap' holder.
"I have had time off to work harder at my game. Put the bat down for 16-18 weeks and just worked hard on being the best father and best husband, that has worked for me. Yeah, I try to be the funny man in the team, the prankster.
"It's obviously great to get out there and do your job properly. We've got a great deck to bat on. The groundstaff have worked tirelessly to prepare good wickets and then it's about going back to basics and backing your instincts," said Warner.
"I think it just goes back to being still as a batsman. I get the tendency to moving around a bit if there have been a few dots. But I have worked hard over the last few months. The gameplan is to back yourself, just back your natural game," he added.
Sunrisers Hyderabad skipper Kane Williamson said it was a complete performance from his team.
"I guess through the season you're looking for points and we're in the crunch time in the tournament. It was a big game for us and it's been close to a complete performance," Williamson said.
"Warner and (Jonny) Bairstow have been world class. Very hard to fill someone's boots. But as a team, we'll have to pick up the slack. You're always looking for more runs."
Kings XI skipper Ravichandran Ashwin said his side was completely outplayed by Sunrisers.
"It's not right to think about what's happened in the past. It's important to stay in the present. Today is one of those days where we were just completely outplayed, which hasn't happened this season," said Ashwin.
"I thought we started really poorly in the powerplay but we pulled it back in the end. If you see through the tournament, we have been struggling to chase anything above 190. That's probably a balance issue. It's straightforward. We have to keep winning at this stage in the IPL," he added.