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Give Khawaja the Opening Spot in UAE, Suggests Katich

Cricketnext Staff | Updated: August 21, 2018, 2:27 PM IST
Give Khawaja the Opening Spot in UAE, Suggests Katich

Usman Khawaja. (Image credit: Getty Images)

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Former Australian batsman Simon Katich wants Usman Khawaja to open the batting in the upcoming Test series against Pakistan in the UAE.

The 31-year-old has batted at No. 3 for the most part of his career - 51 out of 57 Test innings to be exact. However, Katich feels Khawaja's seniority up the order will help Australia in the absence of banned David Warner, Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft.

"I think they need some seniority at the top of the order and given he (Khawaja) has batted at three it might actually suit him to get out there and get into it straight away. He is an opener from way back when he first started playing club cricket," Katich said on SEN's Whateley program.

Khawaja has only opened twice for Australia in Test cricket and has done exceptionally well. He smashed 145 against South Africa at Adelaide Oval in 2017 and scored an unbeaten 79 against Pakistan in the same year when he replaced Matt Renshaw, who was unable to bat due to a concussion.

Meanwhile, Renshaw has been in red-hot form in recent months. After being dropped from the Ashes squad in 2017, the 22-year-old returned to the Sheffield Shield and amassed three hundreds to help Queensland win the title. He was then recalled for the Johannesburg Test but didn't do well. Renshaw wasn't hampered by the failure as he went to England and plundered 523 runs in six first-class matches for his County club Somerset.

Both Khawaja and Renshaw are currently in India for the 'A' series. While the latter will take part in both 50-over and four-day games, Khawaja will only feature in the red-ball format.

"The one positive for me recently is that Matt Renshaw made a lot of County runs in England, which is a great sign for a young player," said Katich. "He'll definitely get a look-in at the start of the Australian summer if he can back it up with some Shield runs and potentially some runs on this A tour (in India). I think he's done a fair bit since he's been dropped so in terms of runs on the board you can't fault what he's done playing for Queensland last year and in England for Somerset.

"I'd say he's going to be a frontrunner for that role. Who opens with him? I think the Pakistan series might tell a few stories. It wouldn't surprise me if Usman Khawaja opened in that series."

Talking about Glenn Maxwell, Katich said the explosive middle-order batsman can force his way back into the side if he scores runs in the domestic circuit. "I think he needs to get some runs on the board at the start of the season and particularly if he wants to grab an opportunity in this Test team," he said.

"He's sort of been in and out and done well in the subcontinent at times but he hasn't really had a good run at it at home in Australia. That's probably what most guys need to find their feet at Test level, to play in conditions that they have done in many years in domestic cricket."
First Published: August 21, 2018, 2:27 PM IST
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