Usman Khawaja was touted to score more runs than Virat Kohli in the Tests and ODIs during India’s tour to Australia in November. However, Kohli trumped him on all fronts as India won the Tests and ODI series 2-1. In the Nagpur ODI, Virat Kohli scored a record 40th century and helped India win the game by eight runs. In Ranchi, with the Indian cricket team paying their tribute to the armed forces of the country, Usman Khawaja crashed the party with a maiden century and shared a 193-run stand for the opening wicket to put Australia in a great position in the third ODI on Friday.
Khawaja had come close to an ODI century during the game against West Indies at St.Kitts in June 2016 but he was dismissed for 98. In the Ranchi game, both Khawaja and skipper Aaron Finch finally got going with a solid partnership that put India on the backfoot. After being inserted into bat, Khawaja started off confidently by pulling Mohammed Shami to the deep midwicket fence to get going in style.
After surviving a couple of tense overs, Khawaja eased the pressure slightly by edging a boundary to the third man fence. The left-hander was dropped on 17 when Dhawan spilled a chance at backward point off Ravindra Jadeja and he made India pay by hitting the left-arm bowler for another boundary.
Khawaja and Finch regularly found the boundaries as they stitched their second consecutive fifty-plus opening stand. Finch finally broke his jinx, registering his first fifty in 22 white-ball innings (which includes ODIs and T20Is) by taking Kedar Jadhav to the cleaners. Khawaja reached his fifty and it was the first instance since Finch and David Warner in the 2017 Bangalore ODI that both Australian openers had reached fifty in an ODI in India.
India struggled to get the breakthrough and Australia notched up their highest stand in ODIs since June 2018 and they looked set for a big score. Finch neared a century but Khawaja continued to bat with confidence, hammering Vijay Shankar for two fours in one over. Records continued to tumble but the 193-run stand was broken when Kuldeep Yadav trapped Finch LBW on 93. This was the fourth-highest opening stand by visiting teams in ODIs in India while this was the highest stand in ODIs in Ranchi.
Glenn Maxwell joined Khawaja and immediately, he set about tearing the Indian bowling to shreds. The right-hander clobbered Jadeja for a six and two boundaries in the 37th over and Khawaja notched up his landmark in style by clipping Jadeja to the square leg region. However, he could not carry on and he toe-ended a pull shot off Mohammed Shami straight to mid wicket to fall for 104. Khawaja’s brilliant knock has put Australia on course for a massive total and they would be determined to break their rut in India.