Qantas Tour of the UAE
Khawaja wary of Pakistan fightback
Aussie opener knows from recent experience a 2-0 lead is no guarantee and refuses to look ahead to a possible World Cup berth
Louis Cameron in Abu Dhabi
26 March 2019, 07:06 AM AEST
Usman Khawaja refuses to entertain the notion that his sizzling 50-over form has sewn him up a World Cup berth and the in-form batsman has good reason not to cast his mind too far ahead.
Australia dished out a lesson to India after falling behind 2-0 in a five-game series, storming back to win the final three games in an unprecedented triumph.
They've since comfortably ran down totals of 281 and 285 against Pakistan, meaning they've won five straight ODIs for the first time in three years.
But with the Aussies holding the same cards Virat Kohli's men did over them only a few weeks ago, Khawaja is fully aware that now is not the time to allow their gaze to drift towards bigger things on the horizon.
"We'd love to go to Abu Dhabi and finish it off," Khawaja said ahead of Wednesday's third ODI in the United Arab Emirates' capital.
"We saw in India they were 2-0 up and we came back to win that series. It's never quite over. We can't take it easy now, we've got to finish it off that next game.
"We can't get relaxed, we can't think that we've done all the hard work and that we're fine now. There's still three games left and three games is a long time in cricket.
"We want to be really clinical and we've got to keep doing it over and over again. Winning's a habit so hopefully we can make it a habit."
Khawaja couldn't crack a game with the ODI side for nearly two years, but his recall for Australia's home series against India in January has proved a masterstroke.
The left-hander was integral to his side's comeback win in India earlier this month with clutch scores of 104 (his maiden ODI century), 91 and 100 in the final three games of the series, before posting 88 on Sunday in Sharjah.
Not only is Khawaja playing match-winning hands when he goes big, he's also consistently getting Australia off to good starts. He's passed 50 in six of his 10 innings since his return – including four of his past five – while his lowest score from his other four knocks is 21.
The dilemma of where he fits in when David Warner and Steve Smith return will continue to be mentioned endlessly, but Khawaja is tuning out the outside noise.
Asked when he finally allow himself to think about the World Cup, Khawaja bluntly responded: "I don't … if I'm picked in the team. It's a long way away. For me it's (about) the next three games.
"(Warner's return) is not something I've thought about at all. I'm just enjoying playing one-day cricket."
Khawaja's 209-run opening partnership with skipper Aaron Finch was just the second 200-plus opening stand in Australian ODI history.
The pair have developed a strong bond at the top of the order and Khawaja believes their contrasting styles make it difficult for opposition teams to bowl to the duo.
"I think we just complement each other. In Sharjah, we talked a lot just about the game situation, keeping each other calm," Khawaja explained.
"I guess at the start I got off to a quick start when he was sort of struggling to find rhythm early on, so I was going a bit harder."
Speaking to the host broadcaster, he added: "Finchy (hits) a lot straighter, hits the ball hard and I sort of work it (around)."
Qantas Tour of the UAE
First ODI: Australia won by eight wickets
Second ODI: Australia won by eight wickets
Third ODI: v Pakistan, March 27 in Abu Dhabi
Fourth ODI: v Pakistan, March 29 in Dubai
Fifth ODI: v Pakistan, March 31 in Dubai
(all matches begin at 10pm AEDT)