Despite him being confirmed to be undergoing a knee surgery on Wednesday, October 24, head coach Justin Langer is hopeful that left-hand batsman Usman Khawaja will be able to regain full fitness before the start of the home Test summer.
Twisting his left knee during fielding drills before the start of play on Day 3 of the second Test against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi, Khawaja, who scored 85 and 141 in the drawn Test at Dubai, couldn't manage to come out at his usual opening slot due to the injury, which was later revealed, after scans on Thursday, October 17, to have seriously aggravated.
Khawaja was seen hobbling his way off the field before play and while it didn't look like as too serious an issue at the time, the 31-year-old couldn't take the field for the entire duration.
In the absence of Steve Smith and David Warner, an inform Khawaja is very very important for Australia for the all-important Border-Gavaskar Trophy against India.
Realising this, Langer told Melbourne’s SEN radio, “My understanding is that he had surgery this morning, so I haven’t heard the results yet,” and said, “But hopefully, some of my messages yesterday were that he might be up for the (Sheffield) Shield game before the first test match, which would be a real bonus for us.”
Langer also confirmed that batting slots remain up for grabs after the poor performance in UAE, by saying, “When you continue to bat like we are batting in Australian cricket at the moment, it’s always open, I think we’ve had 25 batting collapses in the last three years. It’s very open because we’re not performing."
“When you take out Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft from the test side, you are always going to be challenged,” he added. “We had three guys make their debuts and senior players like Usman Khawaja and Shaun Marsh — who didn’t have a great series as has been well documented — you need those players to stand up,” and signed off.
The first Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy begins from December 6 at Adelaide.
(Inputs from Reuters)