Usman Khawaja continued his magnificent run in the ODI series against India by slamming his second ton in the deciding clash at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium in New Delhi on Wednesday. Khawaja, who had broken his century drought in the third ODI at Ranchi and missed out on a chance in Mohali, notched up the milestone and displayed tremendous confidence against both pace and spin on a wicket which assisted the batsmen. Australia had won an important toss and it was Khawaja who led from the front with a brilliant display of batting as India’s bowlers once again failed to build pressure in this important encounter.
Khawaja opened his account with a boundary by flicking Bhuvneshwar Kumar to the deep backward square leg fence and he managed to find the boundary in the first powerplay. In the fourth over bowled by Mohammed Shami, he flicked a full ball on the pads to deep square leg and drove another full delivery to the deep extra cover fence. The left-hander was already looking comfortable and he laid a solid base with Aaron Finch, who also showed some signs of form. The confidence displayed by Khawaja rubbed off on Finch and he clubbed Shami for two boundaries himself.
After driving Bhuvneshwar straight down the ground and bringing the fifty-run opening stand up, Khawaja targeted the spinners and he tackled them brilliantly. He launched Kuldeep Yadav over wide long on by dancing down the track and getting to the pitch of the ball. Although Finch departed to a magnificent ball from Ravindra Jadeja, Khawaja notched up his fifty off just 48 balls. With the spinners in operation, Kohli was hopeful of a wicket but with a combination of wonderful usage of his feet and employing the sweep shot, Khawaja nullified the threat.
Khawaja rotated the strike well and when Kohli brought back Shami into the attack, the left-hander greeted him by pulling a short ball to the deep midwicket fence. He employed the reverse sweep against Jadeja and smashed Kuldeep for a big six down the ground to get into the 80s. Khawaja made steady progress and he reached the landmark by pushing Kuldeep to the cover region for a quick single. The celebrations from Khawaja was one of satisfaction, realising that there was still a big task left to do.
His second century also put Khawaja in an elite list. He became the leading second-highest run-getter in a five-match ODI series for Australia, going past David Warner’s tally of 367 runs which he smashed against Pakistan in the 2017 series which Australia won 4-1. That was the last time Australia had won an ODI bilateral series. However, after reaching the landmark, Khawaja drove a full ball from Bhuvneshwar to Virat Kohli at short cover.
Khawaja’s knock has put Australia in a great position and they will be hopeful of creating some history in the Delhi ODI as they look to break their two-year rut in ODIs.