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Khawaja in top form

Big Bash League
Saturday, January 13, 2018

IN cricket's most unpredictable format, Sydney Thunder batsman Usman Khawaja has been a model of consistency.

In Thursday night's thrilling three-run win against the Perth Scorchers, Khawaja posted 85 from 51 balls, his fifth-straight score of 50 or more in the KFC Big Bash League.

No player in the seven-year history of the BBL had strung together four half-centuries, let alone the quintet Khawaja has now accumulated that includes centuries against the Melbourne Stars and Adelaide Strikers and a match-winning 70 in the BBL|05 final. But perhaps the most impressive aspect of the 31-year-old's innings was the fact that just four days ago he was dressed in white with a Baggy Green on top in the fifth and final Magellan Ashes Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

In that match he caressed a typically elegant 171 against England in what was his longest innings in first-class cricket, a knock that consumed 381 balls and took eight and a half hours to compile.

When told of his record run and asked how he's so consistent in T20 cricket, Khawaja answered: "All I try to do is go out there and watch the ball and keep it really simple. Sometimes in cricket you score, sometimes the game is very easy, sometimes things can be very complicated and tough and you find yourself out of it.

"T20, even my one-day cricket, it's not very complicated for me.

"I just try to watch the ball and go and thankfully it's been paying off.

"Hopefully I can keep going and keep my head down and start again next game that comes up."

While the Scorchers' pace stocks have been depleted by injury and national selection this summer there was still Mitchell Johnson to deal with.

After negotiating an awkward opening over from Johnson in which the first two balls reared up from a good length, Khawaja crashed the Test great back over his head in the third over, then whipped him to the fine-leg rope two deliveries later for good measure.

He used his feet against England's spinners at the SCG and he did that same at Spotless Stadium.The part-time off-spin of Will Bosisto was the first to cop Cyclone Khawaja as he was smashed for two fours and a six in the fourth over. The final blow a textbook lofted drive for six from a flighted off-break that Khawaja danced down the wicket to and deposited like a birthday's worth of cash from the cards of distant relatives.

A brace of sixes from the bowling of Perth's international recruit Tim Bresnan showed whether it be spin or speed, nothing was safe from the destructive opener still hungry for runs after dining out with Test teammates.

Scorchers allrounder Hilton Cartwright was on hand to witness the carnage and revealed after play that he feared the worst when the left-hander started to find the boundary.

"Early doors it felt like we couldn't really bowl to him," Cartwright told cricket.com.au.

"He was hitting both sides of the wicket, it felt like he was reading our plans really well and executing his shots really well.

"He put on a good class of T20 batting."

The only thing that didn't come off for Khawaja was a dropped catch in the 12th over of Perth's pursuit of 176. Stationed at cover, a back-peddling Khawaja managed to get one hand on a ballooning ball from the bat of Cameron Bancroft but was unable to reel it in. He'd hit one more maximum — another waltz down the wicket to launch Ashton Agar high and long — before he was out top-edging a sweep — off Agar — with 27 balls remaining in the innings.








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