Remarkably, Khawaja’s total of runs for the series surged past that of struggling opener Marcus Harris en route to his second hundred, despite the fact this is the 35-year-old’s first match and Harris’ fourth.
Australia declared at 5-265 with England set the daunting target of 388 to win on day five tomorrow.
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Harris’ selection for the first Test of the series was a major point of contention and the Victorian has since done very little in his bid to secure his spot, making just 179 runs at 29.73.
As Harris fought hard for scores of 38 and 27 in the SCG Test, Khawaja compiled a beautiful 137 and a slick 101 not out.
Harris’ woes and Khawaja’s epic return to the Test fold has led Gilchrist to declare that the selectors must open with Khawaja in Hobart.
“I think he’s got to stay in the team,” Gilchrist said on Fox Cricket.
“I love a sense of loyalty … The selectors, and particularly Justin Langer, have tried to commit to Marcus Harris. They’ve stayed with him and were somewhat repaid at the MCG, but Harris would be kicking himself that he’s wasted two opportunities to convert.
“I think Usman Khawaja has shown here that he’s clearly in the top-six best batters in Australia.”
Khawaja reached triple figures in the third innings of the Sydney Test when he pulled leg-spinner Dawid Malan through mid-wicket and picked up two runs.
Travis Head, who was forced out of the fourth Test due to a positive COVID-19 result, is all but certain to return for the final match of the series, dislodging Khawaja from the No.5 spot.
But Khawaja has presented selectors with such an irresistible case for retention that he could open with David Warner at Bellerive Oval, knocking Harris out of the side.
Usman Khawaja brings up century in return to Australian team
Khawaja entered rarefied air in making twin tons in the fourth Test, joining Doug Walters (1969) and Ricky Ponting (2006) as the only men to have achieved the feat at the SCG.
There are also just six Australia cricketers to have made a century in each innings of an Ashes Test: Warren Bardsley (1909), Arthur Morris (1947), Steve Waugh (1997), Matthew Hayden (2002), Steve Smith (2019) and Khawaja.
The SCG Test is Khawaja’s first since the 2019 Ashes.
The Hobart Test will begin on January 14.
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