Former Australian skipper Ricky Ponting has labeled the stylish left-hander Usman Khawaja as the "best batsman by a street" in the national Test line-up at the moment.
To put down doubt over his ability in the Asian conditions, the 31-year-old is brilliantly showing his supremacy with the willow at the Dubai International Stadium, where the batsmen are struggling to score, by hitting a stunning century on the final day of the first Test against Pakistan.
Khawaja has taken charge with the bat when Australians badly struggled in Dubai against Pakistan and Ponting backed the Queenslander to overcome his subcontinental struggles and step up in the absence of Steve Smith and David Warner in the whites.
Ponting also stressed the need to give him more opportunities in the Asian conditions that will bring the best of him, as the more opportunities will help him to cope with it here.
Since Australia’s infamous South Africa tour, Khawaja emerged as a key player for Australia in Tests, averaging nearly 60 on home soil, though his record is not impressive on turning surfaces having registered 117 runs at 14.62 in nine Test innings in Asia.
Keeping in mind his Asia record, Khawaja was sidelined for Test series in Bangladesh and India last year, but his century against India A earlier this month offered him Test recall for the UAE tour.
Now, Ponting believes, who had also doubted on his approach in Asia at a time, believes he should continue picking for the subcontinent tour to see him get better and better with the bat.
Ponting told cricket.com.au on Thursday (October 11), “There's been lots of different discussions over the last couple of years about Khawaja and how to get the get the best out of him. (People wonder), 'is he an Australian Test match player only? Do we just not pick him on the subcontinent?'”
He further went on to explain, “I just think you've got to keep picking him – with Warner and those guys out, he's clearly our best batsman by a street. The more he can play in those conditions, the more he'll start to work it out. It's difficult. I was a bit the same; the first few tours I had to India, I struggled. But the more I played, the more I learned about how I was going to survive and how I was going to cope. The last couple of tours I had there were some of the best I ever had.”
Ponting signed off by saying, “Someone like Uzzie, he's been in and out, he's played the start of a series over there and got dropped but then been picked as soon as he's got back to Australia. I just think he's had a lot of uncertainty about where he's at. I was even a bit surprised that they didn't play him in this last game in India (during the Australia A series). He was over there in India, he'd done well and then they don't play him. He's a class player, no doubt about that. The more secure he can probably feel in his own mind, we'll see him get better and better.”
(Input: Cricket Australia Network)