Queensland v New South Wales, Sheffield Shield, Brisbane, 1st day February 26, 2009

Khawaja century saves the Blues

Cricinfo staff

New South Wales 9 for 266 (Khawaja 109*, Hopes 4-78) v Queensland
Points table

James Hopes stepped up with 4 for 78, but Queensland could not stop Usman Khawaja © Getty Images

Usman Khawaja was preferred at No. 6 ahead of the sometime wonder boy David Warner and he showed his emerging strength with an unbeaten 109 that rescued New South Wales. The path for Warner, who has already been picked for one-day and Twenty20 internationals, to gain his first-class debut might have to head in another direction after Khawaja's mature maiden century.

The Gabba was working for the fast bowlers as the Blues fell to 3 for 39 and Khawaja arrived at 4 for 88, guiding them to the safety of 9 for 266 at stumps. It was an important display for Khawaja, who got his chance with the Test batsmen Simon Katich, Phillip Hughes and Michael Clarke away, and the team, which needs wins from the final two games to stay in contention to meet Victoria in the final. The Blues are currently fifth while Queensland are third, two points behind Tasmania.

Khawaja's salvage act continued until stumps and he struck 15 fours in his 169-ball stay. Aged 22, Khawaja had played nine first-class games before this match and managed a top score of 85.

In the morning James Hopes, the stand-in opening bowler, quickly picked up Phil Jaques (7) and Greg Mail (6) and when Ben Laughlin gave Chris Hartley his second catch behind the Blues were in desperate trouble.

Ben Rohrer and Dominic Thornely took them to lunch, but their 49-run rebuild ended with Chris Swan's removal of Rohrer on 33. Thornely departed for 27, giving Hartley his 200th catch for Queensland and providing Laughlin with a second victim, but Khawaja provided some calm.

Hopes returned to break up the partnership of Khawaja and Moises Henriques after they added a valuable 85 to avoid a disaster. Henriques was caught behind for 39 - Hartley has five catches - and Hopes backed up by knocking over Daniel Smith for 7. Ben Cutting chipped in with two late wickets, finishing the day by getting Beau Casson (2).