Lighter and fitter, Khawaja ready to burst Asia hoodoo


Usman Khawaja made his first impact in the quadrangular series by hitting 101* in a thrilling last-ball win for Australia A in a bid to establish himself as an all-conditions, all-formats batsman.

Among those who played the most recent Test for Australia, only Steve Smith made his debut before Usman Khawaja. And yet, while Smith has played 64 Test matches since his debut in 2010, Khawaja only has a little more than half of those: 33 games out of the 83 that Australia have played since he burst onto the scene in January 2011.

Inducted into the Test arena as a flashy 24-year-old, Khawaja lost his place after the 2013 away Ashes as he failed to manage a half-century in his first 10 innings. He earned a recall in November 2015 for the first Test of the summer and made an immediate impact by blasting 174 runs against New Zealand in Brisbane. He followed that knock with three more centuries on the bounce, against New Zealand and the Windies.

However, even after scoring six centuries and four half-centuries in his last 24 Tests, Khawaja still has to prove his credentials to be considered for selection for the upcoming Test series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates owing to his indifferent record in Asia, where he averages 14.62 from nine innings.

And so, the 31-year-old, who has 2226 Test runs and 469 one-day international runs, finds himself in India, playing a quadrangular series with Australia A, which also involves two Indian teams and South Africa A.

After managing 13 and 10 in the first two matches against India A and South Africa A respectively, the left-handed batsman from Queensland found form with an unbeaten 101 in his team’s last league game, against India B, and starred alongside Jack Wildermuth in a thrilling final-ball victory.