David Warner jumped in the air, doffed his helmet towards the dressing room, and looked up thankfully to the heavens.
For the first time since the Boxing Day Ashes Test of 2017, cricket’s most vilified run-machine had finally scored a century in the colours of Australia.
Warner is still on his journey to redemption, not least in his homeland, for devising the ruse of rubbing the ball with sandpaper against South Africa last March, an outrage under Table Mountain that earned him a rebuke from his outraged prime minister.
David Warner scored his first century since returning from his ban as Australia beat Pakistan
Warner struck 107 as Australia reached 307 all out in 49 overs at Taunton on Wednesday
Captain Aaron Finch hit 82 from 84 deliveries in an opening stand of 146 for the Aussies
The humiliation, which landed him a 12-month ban, no doubt fed into his wide, ginger-whiskered smile when the ton came in 111 balls, with 11 fours and one six.
It set up Australia for a 41-run victory over a Pakistan team that blew hot and cold – surprise, surprise – and came closer to toppling their opponents than the margin suggests.
Before the match, Australia captain Aaron Finch had promised that Warner would be back to his ‘dangerous best’ after scoring solidly so far this World Cup.
And here, at shivering Taunton, the star batsman indeed found his rhythm. He was a compact ball of perpetual action.
Warner and Finch, who contributed 82 with six fours and four sixes, put on 146 for the first wicket, the highest opening partnership of the tournament, a platform built on the back of some second-rate bowling and occasionally risible fielding.
Opener Imam ul-Haq top-scored with 53 for Pakistan as they tried to chase down the target
Late hitting from Wahab Riaz gave Pakistan a chance after they had collapsed in the middle
Mohammad Amir is clean bowled for a duck by Mitchell Starc as Australia close in on victory
The Australian total would have been more but for a collapse that saw the last six wickets fall for just 30 runs.
Warner has paid a heavy price for his ball-tampering misdemeanour.
He and his former captain Steve Smith have missed out on an estimated £5million in salary and endorsements. And Warner’s wife Candice, a former ironwoman champion, lost a baby during that stressful period.
On Wednesday night, he paid tribute to Candice’s fortitude, saying: ‘She kept me going. She is my rock, a disciplined, strong, selfless woman and she got me out to train in those first weeks.
‘That century was a long time coming. It was a relief.’
He is due to meet up with Candice and their two daughters on Thursday with their third baby due to be born in England – of all places – next month.
The other outstanding performer on the day was a fellow pariah of the past: Pakistan’s Mohammad Amir, he of spot-fixing shame.
While his compatriots failed to elicit the movement on offer after inserting Australia, the 27-year-old was menacing with laser accuracy ball after ball.
Starc celebrates with Warner after the dismissal of the free-hitting Wahab for 45
Australia’s fielders celebrate after sealing a 41-run win over their World Cup opponents
His figures, five for 30, were entirely deserved. He has struggled for the form of old since coming back from his ban but this tournament, even in the abject defeat by the West Indies in his team’s opening match, he has proved that class is permanent.
At one point Warner and Smith were batting while Amir was bowling. If the devil should cast his net!
Pakistan were profligate in the field, Asif Ali dropping Finch at slip when he was on 26. Warner also survived a late Asif fumble at third man – an easy chance, really, into his lap.
It was overcast all day but to the relief of the World Cup organisers the rain stayed away after three games had been washed out in five days.
The collapse gave Pakistan a fighting chance, if only they could conjure the top end of their mercurial range. They did… in bursts.
Victory looked possible when Wahab Riaz and Hassan Ali were at the crease requiring 58 runs from eight overs, 51 from seven, 45 from six, with three wickets remaining. The equation was tightening around Aussie throats.
But Mitchell Starc struck, having Wahab, on a quickfire 45, caught behind after a tardy referral. He then bowled Amir before Glenn Maxwell ran out Sarfaraz Ahmed with a stunning direct hit to end it all in the 46th over.