Glamorgan dream of an upset after Usman Khawaja hundred
ESPNCricInfo - Tuesday 12th June, 2018
Until he turned up in Cardiff last week to be introduced as a Glamorgan player, Usman Khawaja's knowledge of Wales did not extend much beyond the sitcom Gavin and Stacey. It has become one of his favourite TV shows, so much so that top of the list of places he wants to see while in the principality is not Cardiff Castle or the Snowdonia National Park but Barry Island.
It is quite likely Wales will take to him, too, after he marked his Glamorgan debut with a century that has given them a chance of achieving their first Championship win at Edgbaston since 1988, when the sometime England fast bowler Greg Thomas took six wickets and Warwickshire, needing 194 to win on the final afternoon, were bowled out five runs short.
In doing so Khawaja emulated his compatriot, Shaun Marsh, whose place in the side he has taken, who also made a hundred on his county debut in April. They will play together in the Vitality T20 Blast later in the summer.
For now, Marsh is preparing for Australia's ODI joust with England, which begins on Wednesday. It was Marsh's call-up that led Glamorgan to ask Khawaja if he wouldn't mind playing in two or three Championship matches ahead of the T20, an arrangement he is more than happy with, given there is an Ashes tour looming in 2019.
Not that he is unfamiliar with English conditions. Indeed, he has made centuries here before, two for Derbyshire - Glamorgan's opponents in Swansea next week - and one for Lancashire. But he does not have one in a Test match in England, which is another thing on his to-do list following his 171 against Joe Root's hapless boys at Sydney in January.
His 125 here, spanning almost three-and-a-half hours on a slow, used pitch now effectively four days old, ensured that the good work of openers Nick Selman and Jack Murphy against the new ball on the second evening was not wasted, even after Selman had clipped Keith Barker straight to short midwicket in only the fifth over of the morning.
It might have been. Murphy added only eight to his overnight score and both Connor Brown and Owen Morgan went cheaply but Khawaja found an ally at last in Chris Cooke, his captain in this game in the absence of an injured Michael Hogan. They shared a partnership of 115 that ended with his own dismissal, lbw playing back to Jeetan Patel, whose offspin to that point he had countered pretty well.
There has not been much turn so far and Josh Poysden, who did so well to take five wickets in the first innings, was wicketless this time. Yet it is a surface that needs to be treated with respect, nonetheless, one on which a batsman can become tentative. Not so Khawaja, who paced his innings evenly, scoring his first fifty off 58 balls with seven fours, his second off 63 with another seven.
Once he had gone and Cooke followed, gloving a catch as he tried to withdraw the bat against the impressive 18-year-old quick Henry Brookes, the innings did fall away yet Warwickshire, needing precisely 100 more runs than were required 30 years ago, were left with a tall task to extend their winning run and those padded up in the dressing room will have been pleased to see Will Rhodes and Dom Sibley negotiate 13 overs to stumps unscathed.
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