Usman Khawaja century helps Australia seize control of fourth Test

Usman Khawaja made a brilliant 137, enabling Australia to declare at 8-416 against England.

Usman Khawaja made a brilliant 137, enabling Australia to declare at 8-416 against England. Photo: AAP

Usman Khawaja has made the most of his recall and reprieve, celebrating with a century that prompted Australia to declare at 8-416 late on day two of the fourth Ashes Test.

England’s openers survived a five-over burst at the SCG to finish at 0-13, but only after replays revealed Mitchell Starc’s dismissal of Zak Crawley came off a no-ball.

Khawaja, playing in his first Test since being axed during the 2019 Ashes, scored 137 to help his side seize the upper hand.

The left-hander offered a chance off the bowling of Jack Leach on 28, which Joe Root put down at first slip to continue a miserable series as England captain.

Khawaja leapt with joy after reaching three figures in the final over before tea before being given a standing ovation when dismissed by Stuart Broad late in the day’s final session.

Pat Cummins declared soon after, with a six from Nathan Lyon proving a fitting exclamation mark to a commanding innings.

Thursday started with much promise for the tourists, who reduced Australia to 3-117 on a stop-start opening day.

Root’s hopes of restoring some pride, which is all England has to play for after three lopsided losses handed Australia an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-Test series, were then hammered.

The most stinging blow to England’s sapped confidence was arguably Ben Stokes’ side injury, which prevented him from bowling after delivering a bouncer barrage in the morning.

Jos Buttler also copped a nasty blow to the hand, but continued to keep wickets.

Starc raged at himself for overstepping while dismissing Crawley for a duck, a rare mistake from the series’ leading bowler.

Everywhere you looked at the iconic ground there were reminders of the chasm between the rivals this summer.

Khawaja, the 15th player to don the baggy green this summer and only given a chance because of Travis Head’s positive COVID-19 test, underlined Australia’s embarrassment of riches.

The elegant left-hander faced 260 deliveries, exhibiting the sort of patience and resolve that England’s embarrassed batters have failed to show.

Queensland’s captain already has more runs this series than any Englishman, apart from Root and Dawid Malan.

Broad bent his back to dismiss Khawaja, having earlier put the second new ball to good use to snap the fan favourite’s 115-run stand with Steve Smith (67).

His haul of 5-101 only raised fresh questions why he wasn’t selected in Brisbane or Melbourne.

Khawaja resumed on four on Thursday, having negotiated six-and-a-half overs alongside Smith on a stop-start opening day, and an early reverse sweep to left-arm spinner Leach was a sign of his comfort.

A rising delivery in Jimmy Anderson’s first over on Thursday struck Khawaja on the glove, while the 35-year-old was hit on the shoulder during Stokes’ burst of short balls.

Khawaja, who made his Test debut at the same ground and against the same opposition in 2011, wasn’t flustered.


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