A special knock, says Khawaja

A special knock, says Khawaja

Usman Khawaja says experience gained during the 'A' tours to India has helped him to prosper this time. AFP

In a chequered limited-overs career, Usman Khawaja enjoyed a rare high on a balmy Friday afternoon here. After 23 tries spread over six agonising years, the left-hander finally scored his maiden ODI hundred against India.

Khawaja, born in Pakistan but an Australian resident since childhood, made his ODI debut way back in 2013 but has struggled to gain a permanent seat despite possessing good talent. The classy left-hander, a regular member of the Test side since the Australian summer of 2015, is among the list of batsmen who find coloured clothing and white-ball cricket hard to cope with.

Almost forgotten due to his repeated failures in the format, the 32-year-old was handed a fresh lifeline earlier this year following the suspensions of David Warner and Steve Smith and the repeated poor performances of the Aussies on the whole. He didn’t soar off the blocks in his return series against India Down Under but has made his bat talk in the three matches this series to make a good case for his World Cup credentials.

In the first ODI he hit an exact 50, made 38 in second before slamming a brilliant 104 in Ranchi that laid the foundation for a strong Australian total. Khawaja, delighted to have touched the coveted triple-digit mark, said the ton will mark an important step in his revival.

“It’s huge,” said Khawaja about the century. “The first one is always the hardest, no matter what you're playing. I found the same thing in Test cricket and the same in one-day cricket. I got that 98 before a few years ago, it was frustrating and disappointing. But just to be back in the side, I'm really enjoying my cricket at the moment. It's obviously a special one, being my first, but there are two games left and we've still got a bit of work to do.”

Khawaja credited the lessons learnt from the two trips with Australia A side behind his good show in the series thus far. “I've scored a lot of runs here for Australia A anyway in one-day cricket. I went over to Chennai a few years ago, I was the leading run-scorer for Australia A there. Then I scored a hundred here six months back in another Australia A series. So I'd performed well here before. Satisfying (ton) because I've worked really hard over the past year to get back into the one-day side. With my fitness, day-in, day out — I've put in the extra yards — it was really satisfying.”