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Ashes 2023: Australia on Top with Usman Khawaja’s 15th Test Century

Photo Courtesy: Cricket Australia

Usman Khawaja’s purple patch in Test cricket continues as he displayed his reliability in the Australian innings during the first Test of the Ashes against England at Edgbaston. The left-handed opener scored a magnificent century on the second day of the Test match, marking his 15th Test hundred and his first in Tests in England.

The conditions at Edgbaston proved challenging, with a docile surface making shot making difficult. However, Khawaja kept his nerves intact, survived the difficult phases, and then took on the bowlers to reach the coveted century milestone. His unbeaten knock of 126 was a testament to his skill and determination.

Since his recall to the Australian team during the Sydney Test against England in January 2022, Khawaja has been in phenomenal form. He has consistently performed well, scoring centuries in India and Pakistan, as well as against South Africa and England at home. However, his record in English conditions had been lackluster until his outstanding innings in Birmingham.

With his century, Khawaja has now amassed 1747 runs in the 31 innings since his return, boasting an extraordinary average of 69.88. The significance of this achievement was evident in his emotional reaction upon reaching the landmark.

Australia began the day at 14/0 after England declared on the first day, a move that has become unusual but notable under Ben Stokes’ captaincy. The morning session saw a slow start, which was quickly interrupted by a double strike from Stuart Broad. David Warner’s inside-edged wafted drive resulted in him getting bowled, while Marnus Labuschagne fell victim to Broad’s outswinger, caught by Jonny Bairstow.

Steve Smith and Usman Khawaja then built a steady partnership of 38 runs before Stokes trapped Smith lbw for a 59-ball 16. Australia went into lunch at 78/3, still trailing England by 315 runs.

Throughout the day, Khawaja formed crucial partnerships, including an 81-run stand with Travis Head for the fourth wicket. Head scored a quickfire 50 off 63 balls before falling to Moeen Ali. Khawaja’s innings was also supported by Cameron Green (38) and an unbeaten partnership of 91 runs with Alex Carey (52 not out).

Khawaja’s century came off 199 deliveries, featuring 12 boundaries and two sixes. His impressive innings has placed Australia in a strong position with five wickets in hand and only 82 runs behind England’s first innings score.

England had themselves to blame for missed opportunities throughout the day. Jonny Bairstow missed a stumping chance off Cameron Green, and also dropped a catch from Alex Carey. However, their costliest miss came in the final hour when Khawaja was granted a reprieve.

Stuart Broad was the pick of the bowlers for England, claiming figures of 2-49. Moeen Ali, who made a comeback from retirement as a last-minute replacement, took 2-124 off 29 overs.

As the Ashes battle intensifies, Australia owes much of their advantageous position to Usman Khawaja’s outstanding century, along with valuable contributions from Travis Head and Alex Carey. England will need to regroup and capitalize on their chances to regain control of the match.

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