Why patient Khawaja can rise again
HE may be on the outer for Australia's Test series opener against Pakistan but Usman Khawaja won't be going down without a fight, declaring he's happy with his form and ready to win games off his own bat.
The Bulls skipper posted consecutive one-day hundreds at the top of the order upon returning from England but is yet to find rediscover his spark in the longer format, averaging 11.8 from five Sheffield Shield knocks.
The figures extend his lean run in red-ball cricket with Khawaja averaging 20.3 across the first three Ashes Tests but the 32-year-old remains upbeat about his home soil summer, pointing to half-starts and a "frustrating" run of umpiring decisions in Queensland's Shield campaign.
"Look I had a rough trot the first couple of games, three out of the four innings if I'd had DRS I'd still be out there, Khawaja said.
"Well, not necessarily still be out there but I wouldn't have been out which is frustrating but that's Shield cricket, you've just gotta cop it on the chin and move forward."
Khawaja built a patient 32 from 106 deliveries against WA before nicking off - his third caught behind dismissal of the summer - and Australian selectors may show concern over his technique given Pakistan's vast array of seamers.
All six of Khawaja's Ashes dismissals were caught behind or in the slips cordon and Pakistan coach Misbah ul-Haq will undoubtedly employ a similar approach should Justin Langer hand the left-hander a Test recall in Brisbane.
It puts even more weight on next week's Australia A tour match with Khawaja facing a virtual bat-off with Marcus Harris, Joe Burns, Travis Head, Nic Maddison and Will Pucovski.
Only David Warner, Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne are certainties in Australia's top six and though Head is likely to be named at five, there are still three potential berths up for grabs including an opening batsman.
Harris (266 runs at 53.20) remains ahead of Burns (202 runs at 40.40) after three rounds of Shield though Burns boasts a far superior Test average (40.1 to Harris' 24.1) but Khawaja's impressive record at the top of the order (96.80 from seven innings) and a tour match hundred against Pakistan could rocket him into contention as a left-field partner for Warner.
"In the whole grand scheme of things, I'm still feeling good, just haven't had a big score yet so for me, it's just about trying to get better, stick to process and hopefully win games for Queensland and Aussie A coming up," Khawaja said.
"Whatever I'm playing in, that's my focus so hopefully I'm doing that soon."