ICC Men's ODI World Cup 2019
Khawaja cleared after 'scary' knock
Scans give Aussie opener all clear after he copped a nasty blow during his team's unofficial warm-up in Southampton
Louis Cameron in Southampton
23 May 2019, 07:05 AM AEST
Australia have breathed a sigh of relief after Usman Khawaja was cleared of injury following a "scary" head knock in the first hit-out of their World Cup campaign in Southampton.
Scans on Khawaja's jaw came back clear on Wednesday afternoon (UK time) after he was forced to retire hurt during his side's seven-wicket practice-match win over West Indies at Hampshire's Nursery Ground.
Barring any setbacks, the opener is expected to be available for selection for Australia's next warm-up match against England on Saturday.
Khawaja, on five at the time, was struck by a brute of a bouncer from his former Sydney Thunder teammate Andre Russell in the second over of Australia's run chase.
He indicated to an area on the right side of his head after the blow and looked in some discomfort as he was escorted off the field by team doctor Richard Saw.
The 32-year-old played no further part in the match as he went to hospital for x-rays, but returned back to the ground later in the afternoon after being cleared of serious damage.
"It was very scary," said Shaun Marsh, who posted an unbeaten fifty in the victory.
"It copped him on the side of the cheekbone … The main thing is he is OK and can bounce back pretty quickly.
"(Khawaja was) a bit shaken, as you are when you get hit on the head. But he is a tough cookie, Uzzy, and he'll be ready to go."
Australia cruised to victory with more than 11 overs to spare, with Steve Smith's excellent form continuing as he struck 76 and shared in a 109-run stand with Marsh.
Many assumed Khawaja would slide down to No.3 when star opener David Warner returned for the World Cup. But Australia are flirting with the idea of keeping the Aaron Finch-Khawaja union together and batting Warner at first drop, where he made 12 against the Windies on Wednesday before being caught behind off a short ball.
Both Warner and Khawaja were tried at No.3 during Australia's three-game unofficial 50-over series against New Zealand earlier this month, while Marsh occupied the key post during Australia's eight-game ODI winning streak in March.
Perhaps frustratingly for selectors, neither Khawaja nor Warner have yet been exposed in the warm-up matches to the kind of middle-over scenarios they are likely to encounter if they get the nod at No.3 during the World Cup.
Warner batted at No.3 in the first game against the Kiwis in Brisbane and again on Wednesday in Southampton, but was required at the crease inside three overs on both occasions.
Khawaja was also at the crease in the third over when he batted there in the second game against New Zealand.
It would be a bold call to push Warner down the order given all 14 of his ODI tons, the fourth-most ever by an Australian, have come from the opening spot.
But Khawaja and Finch average 64 for the first wicket when they open together, statistically Australia's best ever opening partnership (minimum 10 innings).
Marsh, who could miss out on Australia's XI for their first game against Afghanistan in Bristol on June 1 if both Warner and Khawaja are selected, isn't getting caught up in the selection dilemma.
"(I'm) not thinking about it too much," he said. "Get through the practice matches and let the selectors pick the team and go from there."
2019 World Cup
Australia's squad: Aaron Finch (c), Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa
May 22: (warm-up) Australia beat West Indies by seven wickets
May 25: (warm-up) England v Australia, Southampton
May 27: (warm-up) Australia v Sri Lanka, Southampton
June 9: India v Australia, The Oval
June 12: Australia v Pakistan, Taunton
June 15: Sri Lanka v Australia, The Oval
June 20: Australia v Bangladesh, Trent Bridge
June 25: England v Australia, Lord's
July 9: Semi-Final 1, Old Trafford
July 11: Semi-Final 2, Edgbaston
July 14: Final, Lord's
For a full list of all World Cup fixtures, click HERE