'A' One-Day Quad-Series
Khawaja reveling in Indian spin challenge
Senior batsman shines in Australia A's miracle win yesterday having faced plenty of spin
28 August 2018, 05:34 PM AEST
Usman Khawaja is reveling in the spin-friendly conditions in India after guiding Australia A to an improbable victory over India B with a match-winning hundred yesterday.
Khawaja's unbeaten 101 from 93 balls was the backbone of the successful pursuit that ended with his Queensland teammate Jack Wildermuth mowing the final ball of the match over wide long-on for six.
The century – Khawaja's 10th in List A cricket – was the stylish left-hander's second for Australia A in the subcontinent to go with his even 100 against India A three years ago in Chennai.
While his Test record in Asia has come under scrutiny – an average of 14.62 in nine innings – his white-ball form has been prolific.
Khawaja's ability to combat elite spin bowling – an issue more than one Australian batsman has found difficult conquering in the past – is one theory on why he struggles in the subcontinent.
But on Monday he was confronted with bulk spin and remained undefeated, a challenge he embraces away from the pace-heavy conditions at home.
"There might be that perception out there about me in India," Khawaja told reporters in Bengaluru today.
"But even when I came last series in the Aussie A one-day series in Chennai, I think I was the highest run-scorer for Australia in that too.
"I've always liked coming over to India and playing cricket here. I enjoy the white-ball stuff too because there's a lot of reward for your shots here.
"It is a little bit different because there's a bit more spin involved than back home – (where) there's a lot of pace bowling.
"That's always a nice challenge and something different."
The knock will no doubt give Khawaja and Australia's selectors confidence ahead of Australia A's pair of four-day matches against India A in Bengaluru next month and the forthcoming two-Test tour against Pakistan in the UAE where spin bowling is set to play a starring role.
Khawaja has been a regular in the Test team since he returned at the start of the 2015-16 summer but with patches out of the side when the team has toured Asian countries.
He was dropped for the final Test of the Sri Lanka series in 2016, was overlooked for the entire 2017 tour of India and again felt the selectors’ axe after the first Test in Bangladesh late last year.
With the suspended trio of Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft ineligible for the Pakistan series, Khawaja and Shaun Marsh are now the senior batsmen in Australia's batting ranks.
But the 31-year-old is not putting pressure on his performances and is instead enjoying playing professional sport in a team environment.
"I think early on in my career I just didn't perform well enough to cement my position, especially in the Test side," Khawaja said.
"It was a learning experience, coming back in to the Test team three or so years ago.
"I've been a regular in the team since then.
"I've obviously performed a bit better, my mindset (has changed) and I've had a bit more experience under my sleeve.
"Cricket is a tough game, no matter who you are. Whether you're Don Bradman or anyone else you're always going to fail at some stage.
"It's more about the mental battle of making sure you can control what you can control. As much of a cliché as that is, it's very important.
"And then just going out and enjoying it, for me. The reason I play cricket is because I love playing with my other teammates around."
Khawaja will have one more innings in the one-day quad-series, in tomorrow's final against India B.
The Australians stuttered in their first game to be bowled out for 151 and lose by five wickets, but since then the group has amassed 5-322 batting first against South Africa A and then the triumphant chase of 247 in 40 overs.
"We weren't at our best, the first game," he said.
"I think we knew that. There was no need to panic. We still had two games left.
"We knew we probably had to win those two games and it's nice to see us just click as a batting unit in the next two games.
"The first game was a bit disappointing, but hopefully we can do it again tomorrow."
Australia A Tour of India
Australia A one-day squad: Travis Head (c), Alex Carey (vc), Ashton Agar, Peter Handscomb, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Michael Neser, Joel Paris, Matthew Renshaw, Jhye Richardson, D'Arcy Short, Billy Stanlake, Mitch Swepson, Chris Tremain, Jack Wildermuth
17 August v India A: Match abandoned
19 August v South Africa A: Match abandoned
21 August v India B: Match abandoned
23 August v India A - lost by five wickets.
25 August v South Africa A - won by 32 runs.
27 August v India B - won by five wickets (DLS method)
29 August - Quad-Series Final
Australia A four-day squad: Mitchell Marsh (c), Alex Carey (vc), Ashton Agar, Brendan Doggett, Peter Handscomb, Travis Head, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Michael Neser, Joel Paris, Kurtis Patterson, Matthew Renshaw, Mitch Swepson, Chris Tremain
Four-day fixtures in Vizag
2-5 September v India A
8-11 September v India A