‘They’re going to help me – however be hoping Australia get smashed!’ Usman Khawaja expects heat welcome in Pakistan homecoming

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Usman Khawaja insists his maiden Check in his nation of delivery is ‘simply one other sport of cricket’, because the Australian star prepares to open the batting of their first Check in Pakistan for twenty-four years.

Born barely a stone’s throw from the venue of the primary Check of the collection in Rawalpindi, the 35-year outdated returns to the nation he and his household left three many years in the past to return to Australia as a proud husband, father and – most not too long ago of all – member of the Aussie high order as soon as once more.

Fairytale although it is likely to be, Khawaja isn’t getting forward of himself, saying on Monday he’s retaining a lid on his feelings forward of the collection, which begins on Friday, March 4, and plans to benefit from the second section of a Check profession that appeared over simply three months in the past.

“Any Check match, any sport, is simply one other match, it’s only a sport of cricket,” Khawaja stated.

“I’ve performed for such a very long time now. I’ve been out of the crew, I’m again within the crew; each sport for me now for Australia is only a bonus.

“I’m not out right here to show anybody totally different; I’ve acquired a good looking household again house, I’ve acquired a number of issues which are nice in my life that’s not cricket-related.

“The truth that I’m taking part in in Pakistan is particular, don’t get me incorrect. It’s one thing I’ve at all times needed to do; I grew up down the street.

“There may be that little bit of sentiment undoubtedly, however as soon as the sport begins you don’t actually take into consideration that stuff.

“I’m certain I’ll look again on it and suppose ‘that’s fairly cool’ – to play the primary tour of Pakistan after so a few years, being born in Pakistan, as destiny would have it every little thing’s labored out – contact wooden that I don’t damage myself earlier than the Check match!

“Issues have labored out rather well, but it surely’s arduous to be too reminiscent on the time since you’ve nonetheless acquired to be able to play a sport of cricket and be within the second.”

Whereas Australia’s strict safety and COVID bubbles will stop Khawaja from assembly any household in the course of the tour, he expects a heat welcome from the Rawalpindi crowd when he walks out to bat – although he admits his teammates won’t be as generously acquired.

“I’ve acquired a number of help right here in Pakistan at all times. I believe they’ll help me, they’ll hope I get runs, however they’ll be hoping Australia get smashed on the similar time!” Khawaja laughed.

“It’s going to be a type of Catch-22s. It’s fairly particular.”

“I do know the place the Rawalpindi floor is, I’ve acquired a few pictures from after I was youthful on the outdated Rawalpindi floor.

“It holds a particular spot in my coronary heart. Being born right here, I believe it’s going to be fairly cool strolling on the market, taking part in within the sport.

“However I don’t anticipate a hostile crowd. Pakistanis love their cricket, they usually respect good cricket, and I believe that’s what they’d be hoping for.”

Usman Khawaja wants to move to the highest of the order. (AP Picture/Kamran Jebreili)

Australia’s latest historical past on the subcontinent makes for grim studying: they’ve gained simply as soon as in Asia since 2011, when a 12-wicket haul from Stephen O’Keefe secured a shocking victory on a Pune dustbowl in 2017.

The batting order, and Khawaja specifically, grew to become notorious for poor outcomes towards spin; however the left-hander factors to latest Check collection in Pakistan to counsel their Achilles heel will not be as prevalent this time round.

“Enjoying in Rawalpindi, trying from the previous it’s been fairly a quick bowler-friendly wicket. Whether or not or not we get that this time, we’ll wait and see,” Khawaja stated.

“We’re not 100 per cent certain what the wicket’s going to be like, we haven’t seen it but… [but] once you take a look at different subcontinental international locations, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India, spin is sort of dominant.

“Pakistan’s at all times produced some actually good quick bowlers, so it is smart that the wickets are conducive to quick bowling in some respects.”

Regardless of his popularity, maybe Khawaja’s best ever innings got here in turning situations: defying a full-strength Pakistan assault in Dubai for practically 9 hours en path to a match-saving 141 in 2018.

The Queensland captain isn’t considering that far again, although, saying placing his subcontinent struggles and triumphs apart has been a key a part of his preparation for the tour.

“I don’t wish to reside prior to now an excessive amount of, it was a number of years in the past,” Khawaja stated.

“I attempt to keep fairly current. I’m actually having fun with my cricket in the meanwhile, I’m loving taking part in Check cricket, I’m loving taking part in for Queensland again at house.

“I’m in a extremely great spot; it’s simply one other sport for me.

“I haven’t been profitable within the subcontinent earlier than, in each red-ball and white-ball cricket for Australia. For me, I wasn’t too hung up on that, simply ensuring I used to be prepared if I acquired the prospect.”

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