Usman Khawaja, the left-handed batsman who is also a qualified pilot, made his debut in the Sydney Ashes Test of 2011 and made history by becoming the first Muslim to play cricket for Australia.
The 26-year-old Khawaja has a smart cricketing mind as well. Asked about the prospect of Australia playing on turners in the Indian campaign here on Monday, he replied, “Actually the heat could be on the Indian bowlers too. If they bowl on a rank turner, there would be pressure on them to deliver.”
The Islamabad-born Khawaja moved to Australia when young and has since pursed his dreams with hard work and passion.
The Indian tour would be yet another challenge for the man who has broken barriers. Would his name figure in the first Test?
“It would be interesting to see what Michael Clarke and Mickey Arthur decide for the first Test. There have been a couple of good performances in the last few days. Also Davey (David Warner) has been hitting in the nets the last couple of days and hopefully he would be fit.”
While Khawaja said it was learning experience for the Aussie spinners against batsmen who played them very well , he was all praise for the pacemen. “Moises (Henriques) bowled brilliantly here and Peter Siddle has been impressive hitting the deck. It depends on the conditions we are served up in Chennai.”
He added the Aussie batsmen needed to be positive. “Anywhere in the world, if you are not scoring runs, you might as well not be in the middle.”
Brian Lara, Khawaja revealed, was his idol growing up. “I do not bat like him but when I was young, sometimes I would mimic him. Ever since I was a kid, I wished I could bat like him. Another left-hander, Adam Gilchirist, was also someone I looked up to.”
India ‘A’ left-arm spinner Rakesh Dhruv said, “They (the Aussies) do not play spin very well, which was an advantage for us. It’s a problem with their defence. They do not judge length very well.”
The 31-year-old Dhruv, who represents Gujarat in the Ranji Trophy, said, “I am happy with my five wicket haul in the first innings. When you are performing, it is never too late.”
Jalaj Saxena, the impressive 26-year-old off-spinning all-rounder from Madhya Pradesh, said the idea was to put the Australian batsmen under pressure.
“We knew if we put them under pressure, they would enter the first Test low on confidence. I constantly spoke to Dhruv. We combined well.” said Saxena.