Khawaja’s epic knock

‘I have worked my back­side off for this’

The Weekend Post - - Sport - BEN HORNE ed­i­to­[email protected]­spost.com.au face­book.com/The­Cairn­sPost www.cairn­spost.com.au twit­ter.com/The­Cairn­sPost

AN emo­tional 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 epic 141 off 302 balls, span­ning nine hours against Pak­istan in the crush­ing Dubai heat, stands as the sec­ond-long­est fourth-in­nings knock in the his­tory of cricket and a per­for­mance that se­cured Aus­tralia one of the great­est Test match saves of all time. Adding to the weight of Khawaja’s achieve­ment was the fact his strug­gles in Asian con­di­tions in the past could have very well cost him his Test ca­reer.

Wife Rachel was in tears when Khawaja brought up his ton, and 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 hun­dreds ever 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 a moun­tain of runs over­seas.

Ian Healy last year criti- cised Khawaja as “lazy”, a com­mon per­cep­tion that Khawaja hopes will now be put to bed fol­low­ing his hero­ics in Dubai.

“Yeah, there was def­i­nitely some­thing there I reckon,” said Khawaja about the point he had to prove in Asia. “A lot of work goes into play­ing cricket 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.

“But it’s not the case at all. I’ve worked my ab­so­lute back­side off for the last 10 years and re­ally worked as hard as I can in dif­fer­ent con­di­tions like this and in Eng­land.

Pak­istan cap­tain Sar­fraz Ahmed de­scribed it 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.

Pic­ture: GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP

BIG MO­MENT: Us­man Khawaja cel­e­brates scor­ing a cen­tury on the fi­nal day of Aus­tralia’s first Test against Pak­istan in Dubai.

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