David Warner is still some way off his best form with the bat, says Ricky Ponting, in a promising sign for Australia's hopes of defending their World Cup title in the United Kingdom.
Having overcome a glute injury in the lead-in to Australia’s tournament opener against Afghanistan, Warner posted a gritty and uncharacteristically sedate 89 not out to lead the defending champions to a comfortable seven-wicket win.
The former vice-captain, in his first official international game back following the lapse of his 12-month ban, was frequently jeered and heckled by the Bristol crowd during his 114-ball knock.
It didn't stop him from staying back for around 45 minutes after the match signing autographs and taking selfies with nearly every fan who waited for him following the early finish.
Ponting, who is an assistant coach for Australia under Justin Langer through this tournament, had breakfast with Warner on Saturday morning before the game and has told both him and fellow returning batsman Steve Smith that the booing will only get worse as the tournament progresses.
But the three-time World Cup winner expects the opposite for Warner's form with the bat.
"He struggled a bit early on. You can see he's not quite up to match sharpness yet," Ponting told cricket.com.au.
"We've done a lot of work in the nets over the last couple of weeks, but he missed one of the practice games with that little niggle he had, so it took him a little bit of time to get going.
"I thought the longer his innings went on, he started to look a little bit more fluent. Fantastic for him to get that sort of time in his first international game back. So far, so good with him.
"We all know he's a pretty determined young man. Him and Steven coming back in today, they were both keen to not just impress, but also impose themselves on the tournament.
"Davey's done that exceptionally well. He'll just keep getting better game after game. We've got a few little things that we've been talking about and working on, but there's nothing better than time in the middle, which is what we got today."
Australian players getting booed in England, and vice versa, is hardly new.
Ponting copped his fair share during the two Ashes tours he captained here, while crowds in Australia have famously dished it out to English touring sides.
The current team under coach Justin Langer have steeled themselves for a hostile reaction and Ponting suggested Warner and Smith should take it as a sign that they are rated as the side's best players.
"I've spoken to him and Steven about it, just to expect it's only going to get worse as the tournament goes on," Ponting continued.
"It's not a huge crowd here today by any means and probably not a lot of Aussie support either. But when the bigger games come around, I think it will be a whole lot worse than that.
"For Davey, it's water off a duck's back.
"It might affect 'Smithy' a little bit more, being the characters they are.
"The few series I had over here, you can take it as a bit of a compliment as well – they don't boo the worst players, they boo the best players in each team.
"They're well aware of what's going to happen. It just makes them a little hungrier."
Warner, who took 74 balls to reach his half-century and struck eight boundaries, will undoubtedly face greater challenges in the coming weeks than the plucky and vastly-improved Afghans.
Australia's next opponent, West Indies, recorded a comprehensive win over Pakistan on Friday at Trent Bridge, with pacemen Andre Russell, Oshane Thomas and Jason Holder using the short ball to success.
Ponting expects the Windies, who have the advantage of playing two games on the trot at the Nottingham venue, to employ the same tactic on Thursday against Australia.
"I think that's the one point of difference they probably have," said Ponting. "They haven't got a quality spinner in their side.
"You think about Holder and Oshane Thomas and guys like that that are big strong guys who bang the ball in. Andre Russell is bowling fast as well. They've got guys like Carlos Brathwaite (as well) – they've got a lot of big strong bodies.
"Along with some very, very dangerous batting as well, we have to be well prepared for everything they've got."
2019 World Cup
Australia's squad: Aaron Finch (c), Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa
June 9: India v Australia, The Oval
June 12: Australia v Pakistan, Taunton
June 15: Sri Lanka v Australia, The Oval
June 20: Australia v Bangladesh, Trent Bridge
June 25: England v Australia, Lord's
July 9: Semi-Final 1, Old Trafford
July 11: Semi-Final 2, Edgbaston
July 14: Final, Lord's
For a full list of all World Cup fixtures, click HERE