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Australians fret over Usman Khawaja’s injury

The left-hander was struck on the helmet by Russell’s short ball and received medical attention before leaving the ground

By Our Bureau in Calcutta
  • Published 23.05.19, 3:19 AM
  • Updated 23.05.19, 3:19 AM
  • 2 mins read
Usman Khawaja after being hit by a bouncer. (AP)

Usman Khawaja was taken to hospital for scans after being hit by a bouncer from Andre Russell in Australia’s unofficial World Cup warm-up game at Southampton’s Nursery Ground on Wednesday.

Khawaja opened alongside Aaron Finch in pursuit of the Windies’ total of 229 and while the captain started smoothly, his partner was in discomfort as he walked off the field with team doctor Richard Shaw after copping a sickening blow.

On five in the second over, the left-hander was struck on the helmet by Russell’s short ball and received medical attention in the middle before leaving the ground, feeling his jaw.

He didn’t return to bat and was later taken away for scans on his jaw.

Khawaja has been in outstanding form, impressing in pre-World Cup series wins against India and Pakistan and Australia, for sure, will be sweating on his fitness ahead of their tournament opener against Afghanistan on June 1.

Khawaja’s presence at the top of the order had meant David Warner moved down to No. 3. But if Khawaja is ruled out for any length of time as a result of the blow he suffered, it could pave the way for Warner to return to the opening spot he held before serving a yearlong ban for his part in the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.

Warner made 12 before he was out off Oshane Thomas’s bowling. However, half-centuries by former captain Steve Smith and Shaun Marsh helped Australia win the game with as many as 11.4 overs to spare.

Smith was supreme in posting 76 off 82 balls — his third straight half-century (all of which have come in practice games) since returning to the national set-up.

Smith was out to Carlos Brathwaite with 21 runs still required, but Marsh (55 off 59 balls) and Maxwell (18 off 12 balls) guided Australia home.

Finch earlier scored 42 off 47 balls before chipping one to mid-on.

In what was tipped to be a run-fest, Australia’s bowlers exploited an at-times spicy pitch to engineer an early collapse of five for 46 before the Windies recovered to set their opponents 230 to win.

Opener Evin Lewis (50 off 56 balls) posted a half-century, while Brathwaite (60 off 64 balls) cracked three sixes in a spirited rearguard.

Leg-spinner Adam Zampa (one for 42 off nine overs) and Maxwell (two for 14 off three overs) forced the Windies to stutter, while Pat Cummins (two for 36 off nine overs) had batsmen huffing and puffing with a series of well-directed short balls throughout the innings.

Fellow pacer Mitchell Starc (two for 34 off 8.2 overs) and Nathan Coulter-Nile (two for 25 off six overs) were the other wicket-takers for the Aussies.

Australia had rested Nathan Lyon, Marcus Stoinis and Kane Richardson for this unofficial game.

They are, however, expected to rotate their 15-man squad through the three practice games.

The Windies' senior-most player, Chris Gayle, also sat out the match, but him aside, they fielded their entire touring party, including some reserves not named in their squad.