Cricket coach: ‘I hope his leg’s broken’
Australian star Usman Khawaja limped off the field after a ball slammed into his knee while fielding in his last chance to impress before the World Cup but recovered to show why he deserves to keep his place at the top of the order.
In Australia's final warm up match against Sri Lanka before its official opener against Afghanistan on June 1, Khawaja was fielding at mid off when the ball took an awkward bounce and caught him on the knee. The classy batsman looked in a world of pain as he limped from the field to receive treatment.
Australia's fielding coach Brad Haddin joked about Khawaja exaggerating the severity of the knock before playing down any serious concerns about his fitness.
"Well the way he's walked off, I hope his leg's broken," Haddin joked.
Khawaja recovered to open alongside Aaron Finch as Australia started its chase of Sri Lanka's total of 8/239 and he and Shaun Marsh - another contender to bat at No. 3 - guided their team to 1/95 from 19 overs after Finch was dismissed LBW for 11.
Marsh fell for 34 while Khawaja powered on to a half century and Glenn Maxwell joined the left-hander at the crease as the Aussies cruised to 2/132 from 26 overs. Maxwell was next to depart, caught at deep square leg for a run-a-ball 36.
Marcus Stoinis made a breezy 32 from 30 with two fours and a six but will rue wasting a golden opportunity to spend more time in the middle when he hit a half tracker straight to the fielder in the deep on the leg side. Khawaja was eyeing a century but fell 11 runs short when the third umpire deliberated for a long time before giving him out stumped.
His 89 was the top score and Alex Carey (18 not out) and Pat Cummins (nine not out) finished the job to give the Aussies a five-wicket win with more than five overs remaining.
The Sri Lankans were never able to get on top of the Aussie attack as Finch used eight bowlers with the wickets being shared around. Six bowlers - including Steve Smith - grabbed one wicket each while Adam Zampa picked up two with his leg-spin.
Sri Lankan opener Lahiru Thirimanne was the only member of the top six to show any real resistance, scoring 56 as his side meandered along.
The match was Khawaja's final chance to push for a spot in Australia's top order with David Warner and captain Finch seen as the likely opening pair for the World Cup.
Asked about the battle for positions over the weekend, Khawaja said he has done all he can do and it will come down to the selectors to determine if he's done enough to take the field when the competition proper kicks off.
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"Whatever happens, happens," Khawaja said. "Some things you can't control, I've learnt over time.
"The good thing is everyone is playing really good cricket. Whatever team plays the first game, confident that we're putting a really good side on the park.
"For me, it's not important what happens (with selection) in that first game. I'm just enjoying being part of a World Cup squad."