Thursday, November 30, 2023

Khawaja reminisces Shaheen, Warner's spirit of cricket moment

"Even when Warner got out, he got pat on the shoulders with a smile on Shaheen's face," Australian batter says

Australias David Warner and Pakistans Shaheen Shah Afridi shake hand after the formers dismissal in a Test match. — PCB
Australia's David Warner and Pakistan's Shaheen Shah Afridi shake hand after the former's dismissal in a Test match. — PCB

As Pakistan heads into the Test series with Australia, Usman Khawaja recalled the last encounter between his teammate David Warner and Shaheen Shah Afridi in a Test match and termed it the epitome of the spirit of cricket.

The battle between the Pakistani pacer and Aussie opener unfolded during the previous Test series in Lahore which was won by the Aussies by 1-0.

"The last series between Australia and Pakistan was an excellent series. It went very well on and off the field. Shaheen was bowling excellent in the Lahore Test, and Warner was playing really well," the Aussie opener said.

"Even when Warner got out, he got pat on the shoulders with a smile on Shaheen's face. It was the epitome of the spirit of cricket. That's what Australians want; you play hard, and when the game is over, you are all good and mates off the field."

The left-handed wasn't shy to admit the talent the Pakistani team possesses and praised the Green Shirts' top-order consisting of Babar Azam, Abdullah Shafique, and Imam-ul-Haq and stated that this is the strongest Pakistani batting lineup coming to Australia in years.

"Pakistan is one of the better teams in the world. They have good batting and always have great fast bowlers. Looking at the past teams, I think this is the strongest Pakistan batting lineup coming over. Babar Azam is one of the best batsmen in the world. Imam ul Haq and Abdullah Shafique has scored a lot of runs. I am very excited about this challenge," the 36-year-old said.

Khawaja then compared Steve Smith and Babar Azam, two of the best batters in the world of cricket where he also appreciated the latter and said that Azam possesses the ability to score runs in both, home and away, conditions.

"Babar Azam is one of the best batsmen in all three formats. Steve Smith is the greatest batsman of our era. When they both will be playing here in the Benaud-Qadir series, it would be exciting. Matching Babar with Smith is almost like matching Smith with Kohli.

"One of the great things about Babar is he does not score only in Pakistan; he scores runs overseas as well. He has scored a hundred here in the past," he added.

Australia is known for favouring fast bowlers and Khawaja is aware of the threat Pakistani fast bowlers, Shaheen Afridi to be specifically mentioned, hold. He also drew a brief comparison between Afridi and Australia's Mitchell Starc.

"I think Shaheen Shah and Mitchell Starc, both are very fast bowlers, and both can bowl up to 145. We know Starc can swing the new ball. Shaheen has a very good wrist. He definitely swings the ball. When it's overcast in Australian conditions, if a fast bowler is swinging the ball, it makes our job as an opener a bit tough. This is what you rebel for, this is what you play for," Khawaja concluded.