Fill-in skipper brings 'refreshing' approach

Warner praised after stepping in for Smith, who missed his eighth consecutive T20 International

David Warner's 100 per cent record as Australian captain is over, but Aaron Finch says his opening partner has brought a "refreshing" change to the side for their T20 series against India.

On Saturday, Warner was elevated to the captaincy for this series after it was announced that regular skipper Steve Smith would return home due to shoulder soreness.

The Australians lost a rain-shortened match in Ranchi on Saturday night, Warner's first defeat in six games as stand-in captain, but Finch praised the 30-year-old for how he handled the late call-up.

And he said the fact Warner carries less of a burden than Smith, Australia’s regular skipper in all three formats, was borne out in his captaincy.

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"I think it can be a totally different job when you're filling in for someone as opposed to when you've got the job yourself," Finch said.

"There's a lot more expectation and a lot more scrutiny around Steve as a leader because he does have the job in all three formats full time.

"It can be quite refreshing when another skipper comes in who doesn't have to worry about the off-field stuff quite as much as the regular skipper does.

"Davey did a fantastic job under the circumstances."

Smith hasn't played a T20 international since the 2016 World T20 and his absence from this series will bring to eight the number of consecutive T20 matches he's missed for Australia.

And given part of the T20 tri-series in February next year will overlap with a Test tour of South Africa, he's unlikely to play a major role in the national T20 side this summer either.

Former captain Ricky Ponting has previously expressed his view that Smith could ease his already heavy workload by stepping down from the T20 captaincy, while former Indian batsman VVS Laxman told Star Sports on Saturday that Warner was a more aggressive T20 skipper than Smith.

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Laxman has worked closely with Warner at Indian Premier League franchise Sunrisers Hyderabad, who Warner captained to the IPL title last year.

Smith was at the match in Ranchi on Saturday night before he flies home on Sunday and Finch laughed that the notoriously energetic skipper had trouble sitting idly in the rooms. 

Smith sits in the dugout in Ranchi // BCCI
Smith sits in the dugout in Ranchi // BCCI

"We got him to get the colours on and run some drinks out, which probably helped his OCD tendencies out a little bit," Finch said. "He's very fidgety at the best of times.

"It's obviously disappointing not to have him out there.

"He's one of the best players in the world in all three formats, he's a quality leader and a quality captain so it would have been nice to have his skill and his game smarts in these conditions."

While lamenting Smith's absence from the series, Finch said the team is in safe hands with Warner.

"Dave's obviously played a lot and captained a lot over here in the IPL," Finch said.

"He knows the opposition very well, he's very calm under pressure the majority of the time.

"He's a fantastic leader. He's the vice-captain of the country for a reason."

Australia's Qantas Tour of India

Australia squad: David Warner (c), Jason Behrendorff, Dan Christian, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Glenn Maxwell, Tim Paine, Kane Richardson, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa.

India squad: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma (vc), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ashish Nehra, Axar Patel.

T20 Fixtures

October 7: JSCA International Stadium, Ranchi

October 10: Barsapara Stadium, Guwahati

October 13: Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad