David Warner was one of the biggest non-retentions after IPL 2021. He was sacked from the captaincy and dropped mid-season (twice). The Australian batter's relationship with SunRisers Hyderabad fell to such lows, which is seldom seen in recent years in the league.
In testimony to his character, though, the next time he batted, in the 2021 T20 World Cup, the southpaw returned as the Player of the Tournament. He scored 289 runs from seven innings - the second most in the tournament - at an average of 48.16. Warner also hit three half-centuries to help Australia to their maiden T20 World Cup triumph.
His World Cup performance cleared any doubts about Warner being a hot choice for the two draft picks of the two new teams - Lucknow and Ahmedabad. But while media reports have divulged details about most such players, Warner's name has been mostly absent, suggesting that he'll likely be available for the IPL 2022 Auction.
And while nine of the 10 teams would love to sign him, here are three reasons why the most successful of them all, Mumbai Indians (MI), should be his new home.
#1 Mumbai Indians need an experienced batter at the top of the order
The five-time champions didn't retain opener Quinton de Kock ahead of the IPL 2022 Auction. And while Mumbai Indians are likely to try and sign the South African again, there's no guarantee they will be able to do so. de Kock is a multi-talented player who provides any team with brilliant balance. He's likely to attract a lot of bids at the upcoming auction.
So in case they are unable to get him, the Mumbai Indians will do well to rope in David Warner as their second opener. The Australian will not only bring some firepower to the top of the order, which MI tried to find in Ishan Kishan before, but also a ton of international and IPL experience. A team that endured a difficult season, lost some of its core players and is looking to rebuild can't ask for anything better.
And who doesn't want to see Rohit Sharma open alongside David Warner?
#2 David Warner needs a stable team
These are the Mumbai Indians' requirements. At this stage of his career, David Warner, too, needs exactly what 'Paltan' brings to the IPL - stability.
After what happened at SunRisers Hyderabad, the southpaw needs an environment where he isn't bogged down by the internal issues of the team. Even in the T20 World Cup, he played under a level-headed captain (Aaron Finch), in a team that respected him for his experience and let him be himself. Mumbai Indians can do the same.
Although he has been in pristine form and scoring runs in all formats, there's still uncertainty regarding his longevity. Warner's 35 and is unlikely to play for many more years. Teams looking for someone long-term will probably be hesitant about signing him. This perhaps could also be one of the reasons why the two new teams didn't go for him.
It could thus be better for Warner not to go to a team where he's in the eye of attention with or without captaincy. At Mumbai Indians, he won't face any such issues.
#3 Wankhade can witness David Warner's best
Most teams consider a player's suitability with their home venues before signing him. And though the home advantage has been nullified over the last two seasons, it's likely to be reinstated with the IPL's return to India for the 2022 season. This means that Mumbai Indians will play most of their group-stage games at the Wankhade.
David Warner has played four IPL matches at the iconic stadium, scoring 120 runs at a strike rate of 150, with the best score of 61. The true pace and bounce of the wicket make it one of the closest to Australian pitches, which for the Sydney-born could be the perfect second home.
Mumbai Indians roped in Chris Lynn for similar reasons two years ago and in the limited chances he had, the right-hander proved it to be the right call. David Warner, too, could revel and perhaps even bring out his best IPL game at the Wankhade.