‘We knew we were close’ - Khawaja on series win

Left-hander Usman Khawaja is pleased to have contributed with the bat to a “huge” series win in India.

Usman Khawaja raises his bat after scoring his century in the fifth ODI against India in New Delhi on Wednesday.   -  AP

 

With 383 runs in five matches, Usman Khawaja played a significant role in Australia’s series win in India. At the finale here on Tuesday, he scored his second century of the series as his team won by 35 runs.

Commenting on his purple patch that helped Australia take the series, he said, “From a personal point of view, it’s huge. Man of the Series in the one-day format in India — I wasn’t in the one-day side that came last year. Being here in India and winning the series; it’s massive. It’s a tough place to play cricket, for an Australian team to come over. You have the conditions and you have the crowd. It’s really satisfying to come back and contribute but even more so to get the series win, it’s not easy out here.”

The team had been working hard and was confident enough in the series despite defeats in the first two matches, Khawaja revealed.

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“The messages [by the management] have been pretty consistent the whole way through, from Justin [Langer], and [Aaron] Finch, [to discuss] whatever we try to do as a team, I thought we did really well in the first couple of games without winning. We knew we were close; we just knew it. We got the first win in Ranchi, [which was] a massive confidence boost and we played really well in the last game and then played really well today. Everyone was playing some really good cricket and doing it well together,” he said.

He added: “We train really hard. Everyone’s putting a lot of effort into their skills, be it batting, bowling or fielding. And we’re always trying to get better every day. It’s nice when you get rewarded. You can do all the right things and tick all the boxes off the field. It doesn’t really mean that the results are going to go your way. It’s a really nice reward for all the hard work for all the guys.”

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What also helped the team was its familiarity with the conditions in India and it’s knowledge of playing spin. “Probably the biggest turning pitch was in Nagpur, in the second game. This one turned a bit, too. [Ravindra] Jadeja’s ball to Finch early on was a beauty; it gripped and turned. It’s one of those games where spinners did come into it. You have to respect the good balls too. Just playing in these conditions a lot lately has helped a lot of us. We have played in Dubai and then played a lot of IPL as well,” he said.

The win notwithstanding, the team isn’t prepared to look as far as the World Cup, Khawaja clarified. “[We will take it] one day at a time. Not looking too far ahead. No one knows what the next day might bring. We have got five one-dayers in the UAE [against Pakistan]; would love to come out on top of those, win that series and then [we will see]. There’s a lot of time between now and the World Cup so as a team, we’re just enjoying each other’s company. We’re enjoying the wins with each other,” Khawaja said.

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