Pakistan's Tour of Australia - Men's
Khawaja brushes off 'rough trot' for last shot at Test berth
Usman Khawaja averages less than 12 in the Marsh Sheffield Shield and has one last shot at pushing his claim for a Test berth with Australia A on Monday
7 November 2019, 01:11 PM AEST
Usman Khawaja has shrugged off a 'rough trot' in the Marsh Sheffield Shield as he focuses on one final push for Test selection in Monday's Australia A clash with Pakistan.
Dropped midway through Australia's Ashes campaign, Khawaja started the domestic season in red-hot form with back-to-back Marsh One-Day Cup centuries for Queensland but has since had a lean run.
The classy left-hander had his best return of the Shield season so far in the Bulls draw with Western Australia at the Gabba, striking 32 off 106 balls in the host's first dig of 411.
It took his Shield tally to an underwhelming 59 runs at 11.80.
Yet Khawaja believes the signs are good before he fronts for Australia A's three-day day-night clash with Pakistan in Perth from November 11-13.
"I felt really good until I got out. It was frustrating," Khawaja said of his knock against WA.
"I had a rough trot the first couple of games – three out of the four innings if I'd had DRS I'd still be out there, which is frustrating.
"But that's Shield cricket, you've just got to cop it on the chin and move forward.
"The times I nicked off I still felt good. In the whole grand scheme of things, I'm still feeling good, just haven't had a big score yet.
"For me it is about trying to get better and hopefully get wins for Queensland plus I have Aussie A coming up – that's my focus so hopefully I get that big score soon."
The Australia A clash looms as a high-stakes bat-off between contenders with Australia expected to name their squad for the first Domain Test against Pakistan at the end of next week after the tour match and latest Shield round.
Khawaja will be locked in a battle with Queensland teammate Joe Burns and Victorian Marcus Harris for an opening berth, while Will Pucovski, Travis Head and Nic Maddinson will vie for a spot in the middle order.
The prolific Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne are locked in for the first Test, while opener David Warner, despite a horror run in the winter Ashes tour, also seems set for the Gabba opener on November 21.
Incumbent No.6 batsman Matthew Wade is not part of the Australia A set-up and after two Ashes centuries and a couple of Shield fifties, can be confident of holding his spot.
Former Test opener Burns staked his claim with a lively 76 featuring 11 fours against WA, his second fifty of the season.
Former Test batsman Shaun Marsh may also be a dark horse for a return to the Test team and the 36-year-old struck an impressive 77 in WA's first dig of 332 against Queensland to follow up his double-century against Victoria at the WACA Ground.
It helped take his overall Shield season tally to 393 runs at 78.60.
Not that 38-Test veteran is sweating on yet another call-up by national selectors.
"I am enjoying my cricket at the moment. I love playing for WA," Marsh said.
"But to be honest I have not thought about it (Test recall). There are a lot of young players out there playing well."
Domain Test Series v Pakistan
Australia squad: TBC
Pakistan squad: Azhar Ali (c), Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq, Imran Khan Snr, Iftikhar Ahmed, Kashif Bhatti, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Musa Khan, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Yasir Shah.
Warm-up match: v Cricket Australia XI, November 11-13, Perth Stadium (d/n)
Warm-up match: v Cricket Australia XI, November 15-16, WACA Ground
First Test: November 21-25, Gabba (Seven, Fox & Kayo)