Reflecting back on his outstanding match-saving knock in the final innings of the first Test at Dubai, left-hand Australian opening batsman Usman Khwaja has said that he feels great having overcome a very stiff challenge and it is something "you dream to do" for your country in tough conditions at the highest level.
Chasing the impregnable target in the final innings on a turning pitch, the Australian batting line-up put their heads down and focussed hard on their defense versus the likes of Yasir Shah and Bilal Asif.
That is how Usman Khawaja scored his first Test hundred in Asia and amassed an outstanding knock of 141, which was followed by a brilliant 85 in the first innings. He would've wanted to be the one to finish off the game but Khawaja can be proud to have done so much.
“That was as tough as any innings as I've played," he was quoted saying after the match, "I was drenched. I came off the field with sweat through my shirt. My shirt was drenched and my pants were drenched. That took it out of me a fair bit. I've never had an innings like that,” Khawaja further said, “I was just asking for god to get the sun down so we could get some shade. We got in the change rooms and felt good again after I got in there and then it got a bit cooler."
“I just love batting and I was just enjoying batting out there and enjoying getting a few partnerships with the boys and playing cricket for Australia. It's what you dream to do,” he added.
Khawaja also revealed that it is the clarity in thought process despite the tough conditions, that helped him play this astonishing an innings.
He said, “I was just batting like it was any other innings. I wasn't worried about whether it was the fourth innings or whether we were trying to save a match at any stage. It was more of a mindset thing to make sure we stayed positive.”
Khawaja, who was later awarded the Man of the Match award for his excellence, talked about how much this performance matters for his career and what it means at this stage for Australia and said, “It was mostly about getting a hundred for Australia on the last day of a match, trying to save a game. A lot of work goes into playing cricket at the highest level. I work as hard as anyone. I have worked my backside off for the past 10 years in first-class cricket, day in, day out.”
“People think, because of my relaxed nature, that's not that case, and that I've been gifted to be able to get to where I am, but that's not the case at all. There is no secret to success, it is all about hard work. I was grateful to be out there playing for Australia and getting a hundred,” he signed off.
The second Test at Abu Dhabi starts on October 16.
(Inputs from ICC)