Spectator less play could help Australia against India: Usman Khawaja
Melbourne, May 9: Pakistani origin Australian batsman Usman Khawaja said that ‘closed-door matches could end up helping Australia against India’.
Khawaja, who was omitted from Cricket Australia’s latest list of central contracts, hinted at the support the Indian team has received in their tour Down Under in 2018/19. However, Khawaja acknowledged that India deservedly won the 2018 series clinching with a 2-1 conquest.
According to SportsCafe, a combination of Indian expats scattered all around the world and cricket being a religion has meant that the Men in Blue have never been short of support irrespective of where they’ve travelled, be it Australia or South Africa or West Indies.
Echoing an emotion of many Australians, SportsCafe noted that Indians (Indian-origin? spectators) have taking over stadiums outside India and “is a sight that has become pretty common and it was witnessed first-hand by the Aussie players a couple of years ago when a swarm of Indian supporters made MCG and Sydney look like enemy territory for the Australians”.
Increasingly likely that any play would be behind closed doors due to health concerns, Khawaja noted that such a scenario could benefit Australia in their series against India later this year, given the hostile reception they received two years ago, despite playing at home.
“It’s definitely an advantage (playing behind closed doors). I remember the last time they came over for a one-day series, the roar for India was much bigger,” Khawaja told FoxSports.
“Especially in Melbourne, the amount of expats they have over there, they flock in. And when India’s on top they really let you know it. It’s a really weird feeling. When you’re in India, you expect to be outnumbered massively but you can be outnumbered in Melbourne, as well as Sydney to some extent also.”
With the 2018/19 Border Gavaskar Trophy, Indians led by Virat Kohli, won it’s first-ever Test series on Australian soil. While, Khawaja admitted that the visitors were the deserved victors on that occasion, but Australia cannot forget
that Australia’s resolve to not engage in on-field clashes was tested severely by India skipper Kohli.
Kohli was at his impetuous best on the field and his behaviour angered the Australian team no end, amplified in the second Test at Perth after India won the first Test by 31 runs.
The Indian captain’s attitude in Perth, even triggered new coach Justin Langer and he privately addressed the team calling out the double standards. In many ways, a boisterous Kohli behaved a bit like how Australia did in their heyday and it seemed to get to the Aussies on their home soil.
“I remember that afternoon [feeling] like a punching bag. We can’t fight back because it felt like we had our hands behind our backs and we just had to take it,” Langer said in the Amazon Prime cricket documentary.
“It just felt a bit double standards to me. Imagine if we behaved two out of ten (of) that.
“Boys, to be honest, I’m pretty emotional tonight, eh? Because I just think, one; you’re all probably feeling the double standards, the way their captain is carrying on, we sort of have to be really careful,” Langer had said.
When Captain Tim Paine went into a verbal battle with his Indian counterpart, which is now historical headlines.
But Khawaja said: “They were clearly the better team last time… Their bowling unit was as good as I’ve ever seen an Indian bowling unit, they really went toe-to-toe with our bowlers.
“Our bowlers are still in great form, though, and this time Steve Smith and Davy Warner will be in the side too, so a little bit of difference in the batting line-up,” said the 33-year-old.
He believed that the return of both Warner and Smith would considerably strengthen the batting line up of the home side.
Khawaja also echoed the concerns of recently retired former Test spinner Steve O’Keefe, who signed off from first class cricket last month with a plea to make wickets more spin-friendly.
warned that a lack of tweaking options behind Lyon could leave Australia vulnerable, as it was when Shane Warne retired almost 15 years ago.
“I feel for spinners in Australia and we need to be careful here because we have an absolute genius in Nathan Lyon … but who’s coming after him?” Khawaja told Fox Sports News.
Khawaja is still remembered for his gritty century against Pakistan in Dubai in 2018 – an innings which had saved the game for Australia.