Usman Khawaja celebrates his century during Day 4 of the SCG Test. Pic: Getty Images
After England’s first innings ended on 294. Australia declared their second on 265 for 6, setting the visitors a target of 388. Khawaja (101*) and Cameron Green (74) were the chief contributors in the Aussies’ second innings, adding 179 runs for the fifth wicket. England ended Day 4 on 30 for no loss, needing a further 358 runs for victory on Day 5.
35-year-old Khawaja came in for the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) encounter as a replacement for Travis Head, who was sent into isolation after testing positive for COVID-19. Having last played a Test for Australia in August 2019, the southpaw notched up 137 in the first innings and followed it up with an unbeaten 101 in the second.
Khawaja needed only 138 balls for his second-innings knock of 101*, which featured 10 fours and two sixes. His first six came off Jack Leach as he entered the 60s in style, slog-sweeping the left-arm spinner. Khawaja reached the 90s in even more belligerent fashion, clobbering Joe Root into the stands over deep midwicket.
The left-hander’s second hundred in the SCG Test came when he worked Dawid Malan on the leg side and scampered for two. The celebrations were understandably emotional.
In the company of the assured Khawaja, Green also flourished, slamming seven fours and a six. He reached a patient fifty by pulling Mark Wood through midwicket for a boundary. Green opened up afterwards as Australia pushed towards a declaration.
The all-rounder lofted Leach over long-on for a maximum before perishing to the same bowler, top-edging a slog. Alex Carey fell first ball after which Australia decided they had enough on the board.
England bowlers impress before Khawaja-Green stand
England’s bowlers made an impressive start in the second innings. Wood had David Warner (3) caught behind by Ollie Pope (substituting for the injured Jos Buttler) with one that was angled across the left-hander. Marcus Harris (27) got another start before nicking Leach to the keeper.
Marnus Labuschagne and Steven Smith both got into the 20s but for a change, neither could carry on. The former feathered one to the keeper, looking to slash Wood while Smith was cleaned up by Leach with a delivery that skidded on with the angle. At 86 for 4, England entertained faint hopes of a comeback, but Khawaja and Green pretty much shut the door on them.
Earlier, England had added only 36 runs to their overnight total of 258 for 7 to be bowled out for 294, responding to Australia’s first innings total of 416 for 8 declared. Jonny Bairstow, who was unbeaten on 103, perished for 113, while Stuart Broad was the last man out for 15.
The England openers, Haseeb Hameed (8*) and Zak Crawley (22*), have begun resolutely in their second innings, but the visitors have a mountain to climb on Day 5 to avoid a fourth straight loss in the series.