‘Harsh’ says Khawaja if denied double ton chance in Test

Usman Khawaja said it would be “harsh” if he was denied the chance of claiming his first Test double century by a declaration in Australia’s third Test against South Africa.

Usman Khawaja  of Australia celebrates his century.

Usman Khawaja of Australia celebrates his century. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Usman Khawaja said it would be “harsh” if he was denied the chance of claiming his first Test double century by a declaration in Australia’s third Test against South Africa.

Usman Khawaja said it would be “harsh” if he was denied the chance of claiming his first Test double century by a declaration in Australia’s third Test against South Africa.

The entire third day’s play was washed out by rain in Sydney on Friday in the final Test of what has been a one-sided series in favour of the hosts.

Australia skipper Pat Cummins now has a decision to make ahead of Saturday’s fourth day: whether to declare the team’s first-innings at 475-4 and get the Proteas in to bat or give Khawaja the chance to bring up a landmark double century.

Khawaja is stranded on 195. Matt Renshaw, who tested positive for Covid at the start of the match, is five not out.

“I think it’d be pretty harsh if he (Cummins) bowled straight away. I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Khawaja told reporters after another frustrating day in the rain-hit match at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

“He’s been making a few jokes... (saying) ‘I’ve let (South African skipper) Dean Elgar know that we want to go out and have a bowl straight away’.

“We could go out there and get a few more runs really quickly or we could declare pretty much straight away. I’m not the captain... I don’t make those decisions,” said the batsman.

Another deciding factor for Cummins will be the state of the SCG pitch following three days of rain interruptions.

The frequent rain and covering of the wicket has prevented the pitch from drying out and deteriorating from wear and tear for the benefit of Australia’s two selected spinners, Nathan Lyon and Ashton Agar.

Australia have gone into the match with only two selected front-line pacemen - Josh Hazlewood and Cummins -- making their task even more difficult if the pitch is not as conducive to spin as the hosts had hoped.

Australia are pushing for a series whitewash to seal a place in the World Test Championship final in London in June.

“Time is the enemy. A result is very unlikely, let’s be honest, but it’s still possible,” Khawaja said.

South Africa is naturally not as concerned about the weather as they try to avoid the ignominy of a 3-0 drubbing.

The forecast is for improved conditions on Saturday with less rain expected, before sunny conditions on Sunday’s final day.

Australia is 2-0 up in the series after winning the opening Test by a six-wicket rout in Brisbane inside two days and then hammering the Proteas by an innings and 182 runs in Melbourne.

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