South Africa v Australia, 3rd T20I, Cape Town March 9, 2016

Khawaja knows he could be squeezed out

ESPNcricinfo staff

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'Any series win is good' - Khawaja

Usman Khawaja might be one of Australia's most in-form players in any format, but he does not necessarily expect to be part of the starting XI for the World Twenty20 in India. Khawaja opened the batting and scored 33 from 25 balls in Australia's win over South Africa in the third T20 in Cape Town on Wednesday, a win that secured them a 2-1 series victory.

But in none of the three games did Australia use the same opening combination, instead testing all options ahead of the World T20, with David Warner set to stay down the order. In game one, Khawaja opened with Aaron Finch, in game two it was Finch and Shane Watson, and in game three Watson and Khawaja were used as the opening pair.

Khawaja only made his T20 international debut this summer but has been consistently scoring runs in every format at almost every level this season. However, Watson's all-round value and the experience of Finch, the No.1-ranked T20 international batsman in the world and until recently Australia's captain, could mean Khawaja misses out.

"We've got world-class players in our team," Khawaja said after the third match in Cape Town. "Finchy didn't play today and he's one of the best T20 players in the world, so we've got a lot of batting depth and strength.

"Finchy was there before I was, when I came into the team he was T20 captain. He's been there and done it, I was the player coming in. I sort of expect him to come back into the team. Then Watto's been such a great player for Australia, in particular with the white ball. His white-ball form lately has been great. He offers a lot with the ball too.

"The dynamics are pretty simple. We're pretty good mates off the field. I've known Finchy since I was a kid, we've been playing cricket together since we were kids, we're the same age. Obviously I play with Watto at the Thunder so it's a good relationship."

In the win at Newlands, Watson made 42, captain Steven Smith top scored with 44 at No.3, and Warner in his new middle-order spot managed 33 at No.4 to help Australia to victory. Most members of the squad were used in at least two of the three matches in South Africa as Australia sought to settle their preferred XI ahead of the World T20.

"First and foremost we won the series," Khawaja said. "We wanted to go into the World Cup on a winning note. It's always a little bit tougher when you haven't. The fact that we won is a big bonus. I think everyone just about in the squad has contributed somewhat in the last three games, which is nice."

Australia play a warm-up match against West Indies in Kolkata on Sunday, ahead of their opening match of the tournament proper against New Zealand in Dharamsala on Friday next week.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Drew on March 12, 2016, 17:50 GMT

    @JAYZUZ I said shallow end, not deep end. Makes a big difference mate. Also, makes no difference the amount of runs he makes, it's how he makes them and the speed he makes them. Please read my comments properly.

  • David on March 12, 2016, 14:56 GMT

    Drew, the kid who looks like he's swimming in the deep end of the pool has top scored for Australia in two of the past five T20s he's played for Australia. Or do you only notice when Smith doesn't score?

  • Phil on March 11, 2016, 21:40 GMT

    @izziidol you are spot on mate, khawaja should be the first one picked given he has scored the most runs this summer in all formats and yeah simple drop marsh and then all batsman are there and you still have plenty of strong bowling options. Marsh didn't even bowl in the 3rd game and we had plenty of bowlers. for us to win the world cup, we need to choose our best 11 players on form, then worry about the order after that. A bit like NZ are doing, and SA will do if they have Amla, QDK and ABD at the top.Our best 6 batsmen are: Khawaja, Watson, Finch, Warner, Smith, Maxwell.The the other 5 are: Faulkner, Marsh, Neville, Zampa, Coulter-Nile/Hastings.That will give us up to 7 bowling options (Faulkner, Marsh, Zampa, Coulter + Watson / Maxwell / Smith to share the remaining 4 overs).At the moment we have teams with 8-9 bowling option, don't think we need that many., 2 fast bowlers more than enough in India.

  • Ashwin on March 11, 2016, 5:51 GMT

    I will drop marsh and play all the 4 openers. Khawaja, watson, finch, warner

  • Abdul on March 11, 2016, 3:37 GMT

    Khawaja and Finch open. Smith, Warner, Watson next. Maxwell and Faulkner as all-rounders. Pete Nevill can be the keeper. Then Coulternile, Zampa, and Hastings make the bowling. Obviously Mitch Starc would be a priority ahead of Coulternile, but he is the best option right now.

  • cricket on March 10, 2016, 18:04 GMT

    Selecting only one among Watson/Marsh/Faulkner will end selection problems for Aussies.

  • Drew on March 10, 2016, 17:23 GMT

    I guess you didn't notice BEERTJIE but I gave Smith a compliment. Looking like you belong in t20 is the worst position a player can find themselves in! Just look at Finch and Faulkner - two t20 specialists who are not close to be considered for the test squad. When he started Warner was obviously the same - luckily he came good and now looks more comfortable in whites than colours.

  • N on March 10, 2016, 16:50 GMT

    Ozman Codger is a good player. I'd open with him and Watson. Finch at 3, Warner at 4, Smith at 5, Maxwell at 6, Faulkner at 7, Nevill at 8, Could Nile at 9, Hastings at 10 as Zampa at 11.

  • N on March 10, 2016, 16:31 GMT

    Australia are looking good to win their first ever T20 World Cup. The Proteas are still contenders, as are the Indians. I'd also fancy the Windies to make the semi-finals as it'll be anybody's game from there.

  • Mashuq on March 10, 2016, 14:09 GMT

    Instead of bagging Smudge, @Drew12, I suggest that the selectors ask him to bat as a floater so that his famed ability against spinners can be best utilized: Finch, Khawaja, Watson, Warner, Smith, Maxwell, Marsh, Faulkner, Nevill, Coulter-Nile, Zampa. If Ashwin opens move him up the order, otherwise he can move as the situation dictates.

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