Khawaja savours a lazy 141
Stunning century provides the ultimate answer to critics
USMAN Khawaja has opened up about just how much his match-saving hundred meant to him after a decade of being labelled lazy by critics.
Khawaja’s 141 off 302 balls spanning nine hours against Pakistan in the crushing Dubai heat stands as the secondlongest fourth innings knock in cricket history and a performance that secured Australia the greatest of Test match saves.
Adding to the weight of Khawaja’s achievement was the fact his struggles in Asian conditions in the past could have cost him his Test career.
Khawaja’s wife Rachel cried when he brought up his ton.
His own leap into the sky and double fist pump said it all about the personal anguish that inspired him to one of the greatest fightback hundreds scored by an Australian.
Under the pump to prove himself in Australia’s bold new era, Khawaja has spent the past few months shedding 7kg and making runs overseas.
Australian Test great Ian Healy last year criticised Khawaja as “lazy”, a common perception that he hopes will now be put to bed forever following his heroics in Dubai.
“Yeah, there was definitely something there I reckon,” Khawaja said about the point he had to prove in Asia.
“A lot of work goes into playing at the highest level. I’ve worked as hard as anyone. I’ve worked my backside off for the last 10 years of first-class cricket, day in, day out.
“People think because of my relaxed nature that’s not the case. That I’ve been gifted to be able to get to where I am.
‘‘I’ve really worked as hard as I can in different conditions like this and in England. People overlook that sort of stuff. But you don’t get to play at the highest level without putting in the hard yards.”
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed described Khawaja’s knock as one of the best innings ever in Test cricket.
On a deteriorating wicket Khawaja outlasted one of the most dangerous day five bowlers in the game — leg-spinner Yasir Shah — peppering the rough.
Khawaja said a shift to opening the batting helped in conditions where starting was treacherous.
In total the 31-year-old spent 13 hours at the crease over the course of the five days — unafraid to execute the reverse sweep — having also made a stoic 85 in the first dig.
Khawaja admitted the magnitude of his achievement was yet to sink in.
“That first-innings 85 was as tough as any innings I’ve played,” he said. “I was drenched.’’
Anchoring partnerships worth 87, 132 and 79 with Aaron Finch, Travis Head and Tim Paine, Khawaja was a constant calming presence.
Khawaja departed with just under 15 overs left in the match and was forced to watch Tim Paine and Nathan Lyon’s extraordinary final stand from the dressing room.
Khawaja sat alongside the No.11 Jon Holland, who was nervously waiting in case he was needed as Australia hung on at eight wickets down.
“I don’t know how Dutchy was feeling, but I was crapping myself,” Khawaja said.
“You can’t deny how hard of a situation that is, especially when you come off the field.
‘‘You’ve done all that work, all you want is just ‘Please, get through this’.”