Usman Khawaja of Australia
Usman Khawaja of Australia JULIAN SMITH

Watson backs Khawaja to flourish in India

CRICKET: Usman Khawaja has an unflattering Test record in Asia but Shane Watson is confident the left-hander has it in him to succeed in India.

After four Tests on the subcontinent - all in Sri Lanka - Khawaja has an average of 19.16, with a top score of 26 across seven innings.

It's a record that has seen the 30-year-old's ability against spin questioned. However, Watson believes all Khawaja needs to succeed in Asia is a little faith.

"He's a world-class player and you've got to give world-class players an opportunity to learn as well," Watson told the Unplayable Podcast.

"The more he plays in those conditions, the more he'll learn for the future.

"And especially if there's no fear around whether (or not) he'll get dropped, it won't be in the back of his mind so he can go and play with freedom like he does when he's at his absolute best.

"I'll know he'll learn from his experiences in Sri Lanka and do whatever he can to have more success this time in India."

Last year the left-hander was dropped two Tests into Australia's 3-0 series loss against Sri Lanka, having only passed 20 once in four innings.

It was an axing he described as "fickle" in October, telling Fairfax media: "It was disappointing that Joe Burns and I were sort of the scapegoats for not performing ... I just thought that I'd only played two Test matches in the subcontinent and I got dropped."

Since then Khawaja has been in hot form in the Test arena, averaging 58.10 across six matches in the home summer, with one ton and five half-centuries - two of which ended on 97.

It is form Australia needs him to carry into the tour of India.

The host nation is undefeated across its last 18 Tests and has not lost at home since 2012.

News Corp Australia


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