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No shortcuts to playing England quicks, I had to graft and unsettle them: Khawaja

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Sydney, Jan 7 (IANS) Australian batter Usman Khawaja said there were no shortcuts to playing quality England seamers such as Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad and Mark Wood, especially on a difficult SCG pitch prepared by the curator, and added that his century was the result of “hard work” and “giving myself options” in the fourth Test.

Khawaja, playing Test cricket after more than two-and-a-half years, ground out a 260-ball 137 as Australia put up an imposing 416 for eight declared on Day 2 of the fourth Ashes Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Thursday.

The home team bowlers then restricted England to 107/4 midway through the second session on Day 3 on Friday to be ahead by 309 runs. Australia have already retained the Ashes, taking an unassailable 3-0 lead after the Boxing Day Test at MCG.

Ahead of Day 3 of the Test on Friday, the 35-year-old Khawaja explained how tough it was to negotiate the England fast bowlers.

“Jimmy Anderson is always very disciplined. He never really goes for more than two runs an over, you almost have to accept that (facing) him. I don’t try too much there. The same with (Stuart) Broad, but he’s a bit more attacking, and then (Mark) Woods is attacking too. I knew their (England) fast bowlers were going to be tough on that day one and two wicket. The spinners were a bit easier,” Khawaja was quoted as saying by sen.com.au.

“It also helped I guess with Stokesy (Ben Stokes) going down, they had one less bowler which is always nice as a batsman. They have to bring the other guys on more and make them work a bit harder.”

Khawaja, who scored his ninth Test century (137), added that he works hard on giving himself options to play as many strokes as possible to unsettle the bowlers.

“I work really hard on giving myself options, I feel like I can do everything now. I can come down and use my feet if I need to, I can sweep, I can reverse sweep. If you start doing that to bowlers, it makes it really hard for them to set fields, because there’s always a gap somewhere.

“That’s all I’m really trying to do, manipulate fields, trying to put fielders where I want. It took me a long time to learn that part of my game,” he added.

The century on Thursday would have already brightened his chances for selection on Australia’s tour of Pakistan in March-April this year.

Khawaja had come in as a replacement for middle-order Travis Head, who had tested COVID-19 positive after the Boxing Day Test.

–IANS

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