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Ashes 2019: Australia Bank on Usman Khawaja to be Fit for First Test

Cricketnext Staff |July 23, 2019, 9:02 AM IST
Ashes 2019: Australia Bank on Usman Khawaja to be Fit for First Test

Australia are hopeful that middle-order batsman Usman Khawaja will be fit in time for the first Ashes Test which begins in Birmingham in on August 1, as captain Tim Paine talked down fears of his hamstring injury flaring up.

Khawaja injured his hamstring during the final league stage match of the ICC World Cup against South Africa in Manchester, and was subsequently ruled out for the rest of the tournament.

With Australia's four-day intra-squad match beginning 17 days after he sustained the injury, it was decided the left-hander would miss the warm-up clash in Southampton starting on Tuesday.

However, Khawaja has started training lightly, batting in the nets and undergoing a series of sprints and leg exercises on Sunday.

The southpaw though has previously had issues with his hamstring, as a strain ruled him out for two Tests in 2015, so extra precaution from the squad’s medical staff is expected.

Khawaja was said to be close to playing in Southampton and there is a slim chance he could feature should another player go down, according to Paine.

"I don't think he's in serious doubt (of missing the first Ashes Test)," Paine said.

"He's in a rehab stage so the decision has been made that he won't play at this stage. There is a possibility, maybe, if something were to happen to someone else he might be right for the back end of the game.

"But we expect him to be fully fit and available for selection for the first Test."

The 32-year-old has been Australia’s No. 3 batsman for four years, since the last Ashes in England, and has scored eight tons with an average of 47.76 in that period.

Khawaja did go through a rough phase against India in the summer, but also managed an unbeaten 101 against Sri Lanka in Canberra. He further carried that form into the 50-over format to enter the World Cup as the leading run-scorer in one-day internationals in 2019.

At the World Cup too, Khawaja played at the No. 3 spot and scored 316 runs before picking up the injury and being replaced by Matthew Wade. After Khawaja’s injury in the game against South Africa, Australia played the eventual champions England in the semi-final and were defeated at Birmingham.

Australia's selectors are set to name the Ashes squad at the end of the four-day game in Southampton before traveling to Birmingham on Thursday ahead of the opening Ashes Test at Edgbaston from August 1.

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