“Somewhat like Rohit Sharma, Khawaja does looks lazy at times, but that doesn’t mean he is not elegant. As long as the runs are flowing these things doesn’t matter, but when those scoreboards stop ticking, the criticisms do come by”.
The Ashes has been regained, and Australia are in full control of the final encounter in Sydney. Things have gone from bad to worse for England at stumps on Day 3 when Australia gained complete control riding on Usman Khawaja’s scintillating ton and Shaun Marsh’s productive run.
Prior to the start of the Test series, Australia did have some concerns in their batting order, but slowly and steadily, they have managed to found solutions. At least for now, they have. Marsh brothers have stabilised the middle-order while the bowling attack continues to breathe fire. Add Khawaja’s rise to this and this batting looks solid.
One should also give credits to the Australian selectors and think tank for picking players on form and suitable conditions. They were simply fantastic. Most of their moves paid off wonderfully and players did well in keeping their faith and delivered at crunch situations.
Australian selectors have given the stylish southpaw a longer rope. They gave him opportunities and allowed him to settle down despite the parched runs column and made him feel secured for his place in the playing XI. Khawaja’s weaknesses against spin bowling have been brutally exposed in the last. His Ashes slot was also dicey, but selectors invested him.
Australia were well aware of his exploits at home and Khawaja found himself in the scheme of things for the series opener at Brisbane. He showed promise, but a big innings was due from the southpaw. He failed to convert in a couple of games, but that was not going to be the case in Sydney.
Khawaja smashed his sixth Test ton and first against England to steer Australia to a dominating situation. Yes, he finally converted and delivered. And on this occasion, Khawaja did show good intent against spin on a surface that was only getting better for the turners.
With Cameron Bancroft not firing with all cylinders and fighting for his spot in the line-up, Khawaja’s productive run will only do good for Australia. With the South Africa tour coming up in March, Khawaja needed an innings of substance. This outing will not only boost his confidence but also push his self-belief and also ticked another box in Australia’s preparation.
Finally, Khawaja responds
In this innings, Khawaja gave an impression of being a solid Test batsman. He showed temperament when needed, and was patient enough to bid his time at the crease. His 381 ball innings corroborate the belief. He did show aggression at times but placed his innings sensibly on a whole.
English bowlers had a tough time on the field, and so did their skipper Joe Root. He switched his bowlers more often in search of some success but was left without any. He tried all his frontline bowlers within the first hour of play.
When Khawaja reached the 100-run mark, his eyes went searching for his mother, who was also there in the stands on his debut at the very same venue. The moment was mesmerising and Khawaja elaborated it beautifully. He was quoted by ESPNCricinfo saying, “It was elation, you don’t get to celebrate Test centuries too much unless you’re Steve Smith so you’ve got to enjoy them when they come.”
“My mum and Rachel were sitting in the little box section, apparently my mum was wearing a pink hijab too, very cute. My mum all through my cricket career has always supported me, she’s always been someone I can lean on through good and bad times and Rachel since I’ve known her over last three years has been exactly the same, so they’re two special women in my life. I knew they were up there (in stands) and I just paid tribute to that,” Khawaja added.
Somewhat like Rohit Sharma, Khawaja does looks lazy at times, but that doesn’t mean he is not elegant. As long as the runs are flowing these things doesn’t matter, but when those scoreboards stop ticking, the criticisms do come by. Khawaja has been a subject to such on numerous occasion.
“It’s disappointing because when I’m scoring runs I’m elegant and when I’m not scoring runs I’m lazy. I can’t seem to win when things aren’t going well. But I’ve had that through my whole career, it’s not like I’m going out there and not trying. It’s disappointing to hear but something I’ve dealt with my whole career so when I play nothing really changes for me,” Khawaja added.
Khawaja confronted 381 deliveries for his 171 with the help of 18 boundaries and a solitary six. It was a staggering exhibition of batsmanship from Him and have earned a lot of accolades across the globe. Australia are now in total control with a lead of 133 runs and six wickets to spare. They have a golden chance to gain a massive lead and put pressure on England. For Khawaja, he now has an Ashes to be happy about.