Khawaja showed Aus­tralia the way to de­ci­pher Asif mys­tery

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - HTSPORTSMAX -

wick­ets at an av­er­age of nine. That in­cluded 19 wick­ets (9 and 10) on a specif­i­cally pre­pared Old Traf­ford dust bowl.

When I played my one game for Lan­cashire at Old Traf­ford in 1963, I asked the hu­mor­ous and re­fresh­ingly hon­est grounds­man Bert Flack about that pitch; “Oooh ‘twere a bluddy bad un,” he replied with a chuckle. “Them’s at ‘ead­quar­ters (Lord’s I as­sumed) told me t’ pre­pare a bleedin’ turner,” he con­tin­ued with a grin, “and a bleedin’ turner ’t were.”

Not sur­pris­ingly, mod­ern Aus­tralian teams are of­ten greeted with “bleedin’ turner’s” but mi­nus the hu­mor­ous ad­mis­sion from lo­cal au­thor­i­ties. The pitch in Dubai how­ever could only be clas­si­fied as a mild turner; it was far from a spit­ting co­bra and ap­peared to hi­ber­nate on the last day.

KHAWAJA’S RE­SILIENCE

The Aus­tralians pro­duced a more stu­dious ap­proach in their sec­ond in­nings and fol­low­ing the ex­am­ple set by Khawaja, they un­rav­elled the mys­tery of Asif and fought out a con­fi­dence in­duc­ing draw.

Khawaja was a man on a mis­sion as he set out to prove that his pre­vi­ously poor record in these type of con­di­tions was a thing of the past. With a more ag­gres­sive ap­proach that re­sulted in sharper foot­work and prof­it­ing from an im­proved fit­ness regime, he dis­played skill, de­ter­mi­na­tion and ex­tra­or­di­nary stamina in de­mand­ing con­di­tions.

Fol­low­ing the sus­pen­sion of the two most pro­fi­cient bats­men in Steve Smith and David Warner, Aus­tralia badly needed Khawaja to dis­play progress. He took a gi­ant leap to help fill the void and deny a con­ser­va­tive Pak­istan what seemed to be a cer­tain vic­tory af­ter an­other calami­tous first in­nings col­lapse.

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