Khawaja twin tons put Australia in driver’s seat

Khawaja twin tons put Australia in driver’s seat

Usman Khawaja entered the history books on day four of the fourth Ashes Test at the SCG, following up his emotional century in the first innings with another terrific ton in the second on his home ground. Returning to the Test team for the first time in over two years, Khawaja became the third batter to hit two tons in Sydney and only the ninth player in Ashes history to score twin centuries in a match. Khawaja’s unbeaten 101 off just 138 balls took Australia to 265 for six in their second innings, helping the hosts set England a daunting total of 388 to win the fourth Test.

Day four began with Australia cleaning up the English tail in just nine overs, with the tourists dismissed for 294 on the back of Jonny Bairstow’s scintillating 113. Taking a first innings lead of 122, the hosts were put in a slight position of discomfort early on as David Warner edged behind to Ollie Pope in the sixth over, who was on the field as the substitute keeper due to injuries to Buttler and Bairstow.

The rest of Australia’s top four – Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith – all got starts but couldn’t kick on, departing in a 10-over spell either side of Lunch to leave the hosts reeling at 86 for four. However, from then on, it was the Usman Khawaja show at the SCG, as the 35-year-old shared an imperious 179-run partnership with Cameron Green – the highest of the series – to take Australia to a commanding position in the Test match.

Khawaja showed plenty of discipline before Tea, seeing out some tricky spells from the English bowlers before switching gears emphatically post the interval. The left-hander once again dominated the English spinners – Jack Leach and Joe Root – scoring 66 runs off his last 64 balls and bringing the Sydney crowd to its feet for the second time in the match as he brought up his tenth Test ton.

Khawaja was given good company by all-rounder Cameron Green, who survived a tough examination from Jack Leach before coming into his own after Tea, dismantling Mark Wood with authority before eventually top-edging one off the left-arm spinner for 74, his second-highest score in Test cricket.

Australia eventually declared on 265, giving England 11 overs to survive before stumps and the openers – Haseeb Hameed and Zak Crawley – did well to end the day unscathed, putting on the visitors’ best opening partnership of the series at 30 for no loss.