Australia opener Usman Khawaja has undergone surgery and could be back in time for one JLT Sheffield Shield match before the first Test against India, according to national coach Justin Langer.
Khawaja suffered a meniscal tear in his left knee in a training mishap during the second Test against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi and took no further part in the match.
The injury was first thought to have the in-form left-hander in serious doubt for the opening Domain Test of the summer in Adelaide from December 6, but further investigation – as well as Tuesday’s successful surgery, as confirmed by Queensland Cricket – have his recovery period set between 4-6 weeks.
The Bulls are due to play a Shield match against Victoria at the Gabba starting on November 27 – right in the middle of that timeframe.
"My understanding is he's had surgery … though I haven’t heard the results yet," Langer said on SEN today.
"Some of my messages yesterday were that he might be up for the Shield game before the first Test, which would be a real bonus for us."
Khawaja was one of the few shining lights for Australia on the Qantas Tour of the UAE, where he scored a brilliant 141 to help the tourists gallantly hold on for a draw in the first Test and silence those critics who doubted his ability to play spin bowling in Asian conditions.
The 31-year-old has oscillated in and out of the Test team when playing in subcontinental conditions, but that near nine-hour knock proved he has the game plan and mindset to survive and score against spin.
Former Australia fast bowler Jason Gillespie hopes national selectors persist with Khawaja in Asia moving forward.
"Usman has been left out at certain times when maybe he shouldn't have been, maybe he hasn't quite been given the backing and the support that he's probably deserved," Gillespie said on the latest episode of The Unplayable Podcast.
"There has been a lot of talk in recent time about horses for courses and the question marks about his ability to play on the subcontinent.
"I think everyone knows Usman can play and I think for him moving forward, which I don't think has happened in the past, (he should) be allowed to learn and develop playing on the subcontinent.
"Yes, he may have some ups and downs but he's certainly not on his own there.
"I think Australian cricket has got to identify that Usman Khawaja is a pretty special player and to be able to give him the opportunities to learn, maybe potentially make some mistakes, but learn from those mistakes and be a better player.
"I fully expect when he's back to full fitness to see him making a real impact on the Australian side."