With or without Usman Khawaja, Australia face a ‘big challenge’ to save the series
Khawaja appeared to jar his left knee attempting to take a boundary catch offered by Axar Patel at the start of the 148th over with the problem described as a lower leg issue that would continue to be evaluated. He hobbled back around the boundary to the dressing room and did not reappear.
He was unable to open in the second innings due to the time spent off the field with Matt Kuhnemann handed the unexpected elevation as a nightwatcher. He successfully negotiated the day alongside Travis Head although was dropped by KS Bharat off R Ashwin’s last delivery.
Regardless of how well Khawaja pulls up overnight it appears likely he will be impeded in some way should he be able to bat and runners are no longer allowed in international cricket. He made a superb 180 in the first innings and has been Australia’s standout batter in the series with 333 runs at 47.57.
In 2014, Khawaja had to undergo reconstructive surgery on his left knee after tearing his left anterior cruciate ligament and in 2018 suffered a meniscal tear when he twisted the same knee during a warm-up fielding drill during Australia’s Test series against Pakistan in the UAE. However, as of the close of play in Ahmedabad this injury was not specifically being related to his knee.
“We wanted to score more than 480,” Carey admitted. “Think the tail did a great job in finding us an extra 80-100 runs. Cameron Green’s innings was great and he’ll want to go bigger next time. Think anytime you post a decent score you put a bit of pressure back in the [opposition] changing room to then go big and some class players for India did that.”
It was another tough day for Australia’s quicks with Mitchell Starc picking up their lone success when he speared one through Axar. Starc was used sparingly by Smith for just five overs on the fourth day. Cameron Green was expensive, getting taken for 21 off an over shortly after lunch when he briefly attempted to implement a short-ball plan to Bharat who repeatedly pulled him over the short leg-side boundary.
After Green had completed what became his final spell, during which he had been dispatched for a brace of gorgeous boundaries by Kohli, Starc walked over to him on the outfield and offered a supportive arm around the shoulder. Many a bowler has had that treatment. After what happened in Delhi, Australia have held their tour together impressively, but the last day promises to be a final challenge and potentially without one of their best batters.