Khawaja hits 86 as Thunder win in BBL


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    For a bloke who has made his name and way in Test cricket, Usman Khawaja sure can play T20.

    The in-form left-hander followed up his 171 in the final Ashes Test with a classy 86 off 51 balls in Thursday night’s three-run win over the Perth Scorchers at Spotless Stadium.

    A unbroken fifth-wicket stand of 137 between Khawaja’s Test colleague Cameron Bancroft (75 not out off 56 balls) and Hilton Cartwright (65no off 41) almost stole the match for the Scorchers.

    They remain in sixth spot, but move to within two points of fourth, while the Scorchers stay second.

    Perth needed 74 runs off the final five overs. Needing 24 off the last, Cartwright took 10 off the first two balls from Mitch McClenaghan, but the Scorchers fell just short.

    Khawaja’s authority at the top of order bodes well for a late-season charge, especially once English import James Vince recovers from a stomach bug which prevented him playing on Thursday.

    Khawaja struck successive sixes off England veteran Tim Bresnan, pulled and swept with power and hit some majestic shots down the ground.

    Khawaja’s seamless transition back to cricket’s shortest form shouldn’t have surprised anyone.

    He was a mainstay of their 2016 title win, notching two centuries and and two fifties in his four innings in that tournament.

    Thursday’s knock was his first for the Thunder since scoring 70 in the 2016 final. He clearly hasn’t lost his taste for the frenetic format, despite having little time to adjust.

    “I had a little hit yesterday but it was more of a mindset change,” Khawaja told Network Ten.

    The Scorchers successfully reached a target of 186 against the Renegades earlier in the week in Perth, but Thursday’s chase only began going after a disastrous start.

    Will Bosisto fell in the second over and they lost a wicket in the fifth, sixth and seventh overs to crash to 4-35.

    The wickets were shared among four bowlers with paceman Gurinder Sandhu (1-21) wobbling the ball about and leggie Fawad Ahmed (1-19) also asking plenty of tough questions.

    Bancroft, who hit his highest T20 score, was the only Scorcher to get into double figures in the first 11 overs.

    He had lives on 36 and 40 when he was dropped by Khawaja and Ben Rohrer respectively, but received the change of luck he needed after a lean Test trot.

    The chances emboldened Bancroft who, after the second drop, whacked 10 off the next two deliveries from spinner Chris Green.

    Cartwright was dropped on 38 off Green, who went for 19 in the 17th over to leave Perth needing 44 off the last three.

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (11)

    • Roar Guru

      January 12th 2018 @ 8:01am
      DingoGray said | January 12th 2018 @ 8:01am | ! Report

      Tremendous player! His T20 record is also outstanding.

      Averaging 50 odd with a strike rate around 130!

      • January 12th 2018 @ 9:53am
        Rosso said | January 12th 2018 @ 9:53am | ! Report

        85, 70, 62, 104*, 109* are his last 5 scores in this format, absurd how he is not playing higher honours

    • January 12th 2018 @ 9:27am
      jameswm said | January 12th 2018 @ 9:27am | ! Report

      Should be opening in the ODIs with Warner. He kills Matador cup.

      Finch is no good against quality bowling. If he lasts 50 balls he’s ok, but then so is anyone. He’s only 30 after those 50 balls.

      Khawaja is a much higher quality bat who can handle any conditions.

      • January 12th 2018 @ 9:51am
        Rosso said | January 12th 2018 @ 9:51am | ! Report

        Khawaja should be our opener in both t20 and odi side, he wasn our second best player in the domestic one day cup too and his numbers in his last 5 innings in the big bash are absolutely amazing.

      • Columnist

        January 14th 2018 @ 12:16pm
        Ronan O'Connell said | January 14th 2018 @ 12:16pm | ! Report

        “Finch is no good against quality bowling.”

        Actually Finch has made nearly 1,500 runs at 46 in ODIs against the two strongest ODI attacks in the world (apart from Australia) – SA and India.

        It’s Finch’s inability to cash in against weaker attacks that is the issue – bizarrely he averages just 20 with the bat from his 24 ODIs against Bang/Windies/Afgh/SL/Pak/Zim

    • Roar Guru

      January 12th 2018 @ 11:16am
      Ryan H said | January 12th 2018 @ 11:16am | ! Report

      Along with S.Marsh and White, Khawaja has been just about the best domestic OD batsman for the last few years.

      2013/14: 426 runs @ 71
      2014/15: 523 runs @ 74.7 (top run-scorer)
      2015/16: 90 runs @ 30 (only 3 matches)
      2016/17: 73 runs @ 36.5 (only 2 matches)
      2017/18: 380 runs @ 63.3

      Has a domestic OD overall average of 45

      • January 12th 2018 @ 1:50pm
        Ross said | January 12th 2018 @ 1:50pm | ! Report

        Good summary

    • January 12th 2018 @ 11:21am
      Mitch said | January 12th 2018 @ 11:21am | ! Report

      With Khawaja at the crease you just know he will post a score. As explosive as finch can be he is just so unpredictable and defensively exposed at times. Khawaja last night was a perfect example of explosion and complete control.

      • January 12th 2018 @ 1:50pm
        Ross said | January 12th 2018 @ 1:50pm | ! Report

        And this Ian something finch just doesn’t bring and Khawaja does, explosive and complete control

    • January 12th 2018 @ 2:29pm
      matth said | January 12th 2018 @ 2:29pm | ! Report

      What this tells me is that the step between domestic and international cricket is higher than most people think. Khawaja and Bancroft come down from the national team and immediately dominate this BBL game, despite struggling a bit (Bancroft more so) at test level.

      There are two take-aways from this:

      1. The English pie chuckers aren’t as bad as we think, they are still a step up from state level bowlers.

      2. Big performances in domestic cricket do not necessarily mean that player is better quality than the equivalent international player. How many times do we here that so and so is struggling for Australia but blah-blah is killing them in the domestic comp, so is obviously a better player.

      • January 13th 2018 @ 5:37pm
        Mitch said | January 13th 2018 @ 5:37pm | ! Report

        This is also the T20 format though and players can be amazing in t20 and hopeless at test level. Khawaja is class even though he had some difficult patches in the ashes he still posted scores and the way he is playing at the moment reminds me of the last T20 world cup where he was one of the best players against the best bowlers in the world.

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