Australian opener Usman Khawaja has said that he was not in good shape on the first day of the third Test against Pakistan in Lahore. The stylish left-hander, though, admitted that scoring 91 on a stiflingly hot day was highly satisfying.
Khawaja, with Steve Smith (59), helped restore order to the Australian innings after David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne perished cheaply. The pair added 138 runs to rescue the tourists from a precarious 8-2 after captain Pat Cummins had won the toss and opted to take first strike.
However, Pakistan edged ahead by picking up three scalps in the final session of the day.
After the day’s play, the 35-year-old Khawaja said that he had to take medication between breaks, as he felt ill. The veteran, however, kept himself going for as long as he could. He was quoted as saying by Perth Now in this regard:
“I was a little bit sick. I got some medication from the doc in between breaks. I wasn’t feeling well at all. There were a lot of mind games in between.”
“I just told myself, ‘just keep going, go as long as you can, just keep pushing through’. And to push through for five hours – I felt absolutely horrible at the end of the day. I could have easily just gone harder and played a big shot and got out on 20 or 30. So for me to get 90 on the day with the heat, I’m actually really happy with it.”
The left-hander had to walk back nine short of a second hundred on the tour when Babar Azam took a one-handed catch at slip off Sajid Khan to dismiss him. Khawaja made 97 in the first Test in Rawalpindi before scoring a hundred in the second game in Karachi.
“I find it so funny we’re talking about Steve Smith not scoring 100s” – Usman Khawaja
Khawaja also talked about his teammate Steve Smith missing out on a ton, saying the former Australian captain is still delivering useful knocks. He remains confident in the 32-year old’s ability to start putting up big scores again, saying:
“I’m sure he’s frustrated in some respects. He is, in my opinion, the greatest batsman I’ve seen in my era, averaging 60 pretty much his whole Test career. I’m still in awe in how many runs he’s scored over a long period of time.”
“I find it so funny we’re talking about Steve Smith not scoring 100s; he seems to be getting 70, 80 … and doing it very easily. That’s just the class Steve Smith has. I’m sure once he gets a big score, more big scores will come. The fact he’s getting those 60s, 70s, he’s looking really good with the bat.”
Australia reached 232-5 at stumps, thanks largely to the partnership between Steve Smith and Usman Khawaja. The visitors will look for a score in excess of 300 to put the hosts under pressure.