Usman Khawaja scores half-century for Qld against SA as Ashes battle hots up

Travis Head looked to be winning the race for the final spot in the Aussie batting order, but Usman Khawaja wasn’t going down without a fight.

Usman Khawaja has had his Ashes cake and eaten it too.

The Queensland skipper put his team before his Test aspirations when he forced South Australia to follow on on day three of the sides’ Sheffield Shield clash, knowing full well that he’d be gifting his nearest Ashes rival, Travis Head, another chance to impress with the willow.

In making the call, Khawaja looked to be forfeiting his chance to bat again, given Queensland would likely reach South Australia’s target with ease.

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As Head affirmed his Test credentials by stroking his way to a classy century on day three, Khawaja might’ve felt his own Ashes hopes slipping through his fingers.

But the cricket gods were clearly smiling down on Khawaja after his selfless captain’s call.

When the Bulls lost two quick wickets within the first seven overs on the final day, Khawaja was called in for a longer spell at the crease than what most would’ve seen coming.

The veteran had one last chance to flex his muscles before the Ashes, and boy did he take it.

Khawaja must’ve made lunch reservations because he batted like a man with somewhere to be.

Queensland was never going to have any trouble making the 83 runs required on day four, but Khawaja made the task look like child’s play, belting 10 boundaries on his way to a half-century from just 35 deliveries.

Appropriately, it was the skipper who hit Lloyd Pope to point for the final run that Queensland needed in its chase.

With both Head and Khawaja putting forward compelling cases for selection, Aussie selectors now have an agonising call to make ahead of the first Ashes Test, which begins on December 9.

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