Australia 255/4 on Day 1 Stumps – what a day for Australia and Khawaja
Since his return to the Australia Test setup in 2022, Usman Khawaja has scored 890 runs in the subcontinent at an average of 74.16.
On the way to his maiden Test hundred in India, Khawaja overtook India’s Rohit Sharma to become the highest run-getter in the 2022/23 edition of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
After failing twice in Nagpur, the Queensland batter got his act together and went on to score back-to-back half-centuries in the next two games at Delhi and Indore. Today, his splendid run reached its high mark at Ahmedabad, as the batter was unbeaten on 104* at the end of the first day’s play.
This streak isn’t a surprise given how well Khawaja has improved his game in the subcontinent. Till 2021, Khawaja had played five Tests in these conditions, and had scored 117 runs at an average of 14.62.
This changed after his return to the Test setup in 2022.
During the Benaud-Qadir Trophy 2021/22 in Pakistan, the left-handed opener had a golden run scoring 97, 160, 44*, 91 and 104* in three Tests.
With 496 runs at an average of 165.33, Khawaja was almost 100 runs ahead of the next best batter in the series. The second-best run-getter for Australia was 270 runs behind him.
His efforts helped keep Australia competitive in the first two Tests, while his cumulative total of 195 runs at Lahore helped them to a historic 1-0 series win. He won the Player of the Series award for his superlative efforts with the willow.
Khawaja carried his form to Sri Lanka in the Warne-Muralitharan Trophy 2022. He scored 137 runs at an average of 45.66 on wickets which provided a substantial amount of assistance to spin.
In the first Test at Galle, Khawaja’s 71, alongside Cameron Green’s 77, helped his team an essential lead of 109-runs. Australia won the game by a comfortable margin of 10-wickets. Even though they lost the second Test, they retained the trophy at the back of a drawn series.
Continuing the trend, Khawaja’s solid starts at the top have assisted Australia’s cause in India.
The Baggy Greens were in a solid position in the first innings at Delhi before giving away the advantage, while they went on to win the third Test at Indore after securing an 88-run lead in the first innings.
Khawaja’s 81 in the first innings at Delhi was the highest score by any player in the Test. Likewise, his 60 in first innings at Indore was the most any batter could accrue on a challenging wicket.
Now his hundred has helped them to a fairly strong place in the final game at Ahmedabad.
Alongside a strong bowling line-up, Khawaja’s top form has been a factor in the revival of Australian fortunes in the subcontinent.
After their epic “Final Frontier” win against India in 2004/05 till 2021, the side had won just five out of 24 Tests in the subcontinent. Since 2022, Australia have already won three out of eight Tests here.