'That wasn't Davey': Khawaja reflects on his mate's final role

Usman Khawaja sheds light on the effect a 'team first' attitude has had on longtime teammate David Warner following the pair's 50-run partnership in his farewell Test

The Test teammate who knows and understands David Warner better than all others believes the retiring Australia opener has at times sacrificed his own standing within the game in pursuit of team success, and at the behest of others.

Usman Khawaja began playing alongside Warner when the pair were schoolboys in Sydney's southern suburbs, and was at his mate's side today in what might yet prove the final innings of his long-time friend's 112-Test career.

While neither was able to crown today's occasion with a sizeable score – Warner fell for 34, and Khawaja for 47 on another rain-ruined Test day at the SCG – the imminent end of their decades-long on-field partnership led the latter to poignant reflection.

And amid the career obituaries and legacy analysis pieces being penned ahead of Warner's last scheduled day as a Test cricketer on Sunday (should the current game go the distance), Khawaja took the opportunity to air his views on the often-polarising perceptions of his opening partner.

Australia v Pakistan | Third Test | Day 2

"It's really good to watch people getting around him because I believe he deserves it," Khawaja said at the premature close to day two, noting the care and concern he showed for Warner in the wake of the sandpaper controversy that resulted in a 12-month playing ban.

"For a long period of time he was in people's faces and doing stuff, but that wasn't always Davey.

"He was also getting told to play a certain way by the coaching staff, by the people around at certain points.

"Back in the day, if … coaches or senior players asked him to get into the contest and sledge other teams, he'd do it.

"He's such a team player, if you ask him to do something he'll do it for the team and that's the frustrating part when people come at him.

"He always put himself out there and he's always put himself second and put the team first.

"He doesn't have to do it, but he wants to because he wants to help the team and that's how he felt like he had to help the team.

"You've seen a very different Davey Warner after his comeback (from suspension) after 2019, he's been great.

"He's scored runs, he's done it his own way, he's played the game in a really good way.

"He's enjoyed it, you can tell he's smiling a lot on the field, he's doing it David Warner's way which is really good to see in the last half of his career."

Warner's countenance was more rueful than euphoric after he was caught at slip off Pakistan spinner Salman Ali Agha today, a delivery his fellow opener described as "a ripper of a ball" and which left the veteran with a maximum of one more Test knock to complete a fairytale finish.

If Warner needed a template of how a farewell Test should not look, he only needed to catch the voluminous lowlights from the barely believable first day between South Africa and India at Cape Town overnight.

Amid that carnage of 23 wickets was fellow left-handed opener Dean Elgar's finale as a Test player, with the former Proteas skipper batting a total of 66 minutes and surviving 43 balls for an aggregate of 16 runs in his last pair of international innings that were unfortunately compressed into a single day's play.

For a while it seemed Warner might be destined for an elusive gilded ending – only eight of the 466 men's players to have represented Australia in Tests have managed a century in what proved their final match – especially after he was dropped from a straightforward chance offered to slip.

He had walked out to resume what may yet prove his ultimate Test innings at 10.28am amid stifling humidity and to warm applause from a crowd that numbered just over 20,000 when day two began.

Patrons in the SCG Members Stand, the adjoining Ladies Pavilion and many in the concourse of the Brewongle Stand stood in acclaim though, to be fair, a number took to their feet in order to clearly capture the memorabilia moment on their mobile phones.

It took a further seven minutes for Warner to face his first ball of the day after Khawaja played out a maiden from Mir Hamza to start proceedings, and an additional 11 minutes before the exiting great found his first run.

But the cheer accompanying that boundary – a signature punch through cover point that saw Warner crouched on bended knee as the ball scuttled to the rope – conveyed their collective hope the veteran had one more Test ton left in him.

Even before the dropped catch by Saim Ayub off Aamir Jamal when on 20, Warner looked to have luck on his side after a leading edge flew harmlessly through the gap between second slip and gully for another boundary.

And the cheerful demeanour Khawaja referred to was obvious soon after when Pakistan pace bowler Mir Hamza ended up face-first on the pitch during his follow-through and Warner was first on the scene to help him recover his feet.

But 20 minutes after he and Khawaja celebrated their 10th half-century opening stand, and perhaps their last depending on how the final three days play out on a sluggish SCG pitch, the dream was over after another edge to slip was snared by Pakistan's Babar Azam.

"I always love batting with Davey," Khawaja said of the first-wicket union that was forged in the twilight of their respective playing careers at the end of the 2020-21 Ashes summer.

"This series he's batted beautifully, got that big hundred in the first game (164 in Perth) and he's looked good every single way so it's nice to see him leave on a high.

'We've been mates for so long, he's been such an amazing cricketer for Australia it's nice for him to go out on his own terms in front of his home crowd and family.

"I get emotional even looking at him, watching what he's achieved and seeing what he's done throughout the years and being able to share that with him.

"We're pretty tight, and especially probably even tighter after he missed a year of cricket."

Still think there will be a result in this Test: Khawaja

If events fall in Australia's favour and the duo get to head to the batting crease one last time before this series, and Warner's Test tenure, reaches its conclusion then there still exists the chance that Warner might depart the game on a rare high.

The last Australia opener to score a century in what proved to be his final Test innings was another left-hander, Phil Jacques, who didn't suspect his 2008 effort against West Indies at Barbados would also be his swansong.

Compounding the difficulty of Warner's task to produce one last celebratory leap is the fact Australia will bat fourth in this Test, with the highest individual score of any of Warner's predecessors under that criterion being Steve Waugh's 80 in his poignant finale at the SCG 20 years ago.

But regardless of how the final phase plays out, Khawaja understands it's just the end of a chapter rather than the close of a book, as he duly noted in a social media post leading into the final NRMA Insurance Test against Pakistan.

"We won't get to play again after this and it will definitely be sad," Khawaja said today.

"Talking about it right now, I think about the journey that we've been on and he (Warner) gets quite emotional but it's not the end of our lives.

'Hopefully we've got a lot more times to spend together after we've played cricket - on the golf course, or commentating or whatever it might be.

'I'm sure there are some good times ahead."

NRMA Insurance Test series v Pakistan

First Test: Australia won by 360 runs

Second Test: Australia won by 79 runs

Third Test: January 3-7, SCG (10.30am AEDT)

Australia squad: Pat Cummins (c), Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Steve Smith, Mitch Starc, David Warner

Pakistan squad: Shan Masood (c), Aamir Jamal, Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Saim Ayub, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Saud Shakeel and Shaheen Shah Afridi