India have come under fire from former Australian captain Ian Chappell for their bowling tactics against centurion Usman Khawaja on Day 1 of the fourth Test. Khawaja's classy innings marked Australia's first century in the series and just the second from either team (after Rohit Sharma in the first Test).
The 36-year-old's knock helped Australia navigate their way to 4-255 at the close of play as the visiting team look to level the Border-Gavaskar series. Khawaja has been Australia's best batter during the tough series, despite plenty of criticism before the subcontinent tour that he couldn't play spin.
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But in bringing up his first century against India on Thursday, he well and truly silenced his critics. However, while Khawaja was in imperious form on Day 1, Chappell blasted India's tactics against Australia's left-handers.
The Narendra Modi Stadium pitch was more pace-friendly than the previous three wickets in India. But, experienced quicks Yumesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami were wayward in their first spell with the SB ball.
Shami's opening ball of the Test match replicated Steve Harmison's opening ball of the Ashes with a delivery that angled towards second-slip. Despite being off the radar in the first few spells, the Indian bowlers were also called out over their tactics in bowling around the wicket.
Chappell blasted the tactic of the fast-bowlers and said it played into the hands of Australia's left-handers throughout the series. The former captain said the little variation in the pitches for quicks allows Khawaja to easily work the ball off his pads and score at a quick rate.
"One thing I can't understand is India's desire to come around the wicket at all times to a left-hander. It just doesn't make any sense to me. All the good left-handers I have spoken to have said the right arm over the wicket is the toughest line to face," he said on ESPN CricInfo.
"Ok, now for every now then for a change you can bowl around the wicket. It works well in England but in India, it is ridiculous.
"Particularly to a player like Khawaja, whose great strength is his on-side. We saw that today. Why would you angle the ball into his pads, when that's exactly what he wants. The other thing about Khawaja is, he looked at ease at all times. India to me, haven't come up with a solution to Khawaja's batting and it is really starting to hurt them."
Brad Haddin was also critical of India's bowling during his Fox Sports analysis. "I thought India wasted the new ball. They were inconsistent, bowled on both sides of the wicket," he said.
Khawaja will resume Day 2 on 104 after recoding his 13th Test century. Cameron Green is also eyeing a half-century when play resumes.
— Bharat Sundaresan (@beastieboy07) March 9, 2023
Usman Khawaja puts spin debate to bed
While plenty doubted Khawaja's ability to play spin leading into the Border-Gavaskar series, the batter himself wasn't one of them. And the opener has well and truly showed critics his evolution as one of Australia's greats.
"Any time I got to play spin, people were like 'you can't play spin' - I probably started believing it myself," Khawaja said after the first day's play in Ahmedabad. "I didn't really get the support from the people around me at the time.
"Didn't feel like the team really supported me, didn't feel like the coaching staff and selectors really supported me through that journey. It just made it so hard. Throughout the middle of my career, I got told I couldn't play spin and that's why I never got an opportunity to play in India.
"Whether I was or wasn't (weak against spin), I'm a better player of spin now, no doubt about that. Fortunately enough, I'm quite stubborn so I went out of my own way to learn. I had to go back and figure it out all by myself."
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