Khawaja silences doubters with special ton in India
Star opener Usman Khawaja has called out former Australian coaches and selectors for not believing he could bat against spin as he celebrated scoring a special Test century in India.
Khawaja's 14th Test century was one of his finest, batting through the entire first day against India on Thursday to put Australia in command of the Border-Gavaskar trophy finale.
The 36-year-old toured India in 2013 and 2017 but had to wait until the first match of this series in Nagpur last month to make an Test appearance in the country.
Khawaja has made up for lost time to be the leading run-scorer from either team across the four Tests, cashing in on an Ahmedabad pitch with far less demons in it than the first three matches.
The left-hander said his perceived weakness against spin-bowling could have been a "self-fulfilling prophecy".
"Any time I got to play spin, people were like 'you can't play spin' - I probably started believing it myself," Khawaja said.
"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."
Khawaja's stunning career resurgence has been one of the best stories to happen to Australian cricket in the last 18 months.
After a more than two-year absence, he was only recalled to the Test team in January 2022 because Travis Head was ruled out of the Ashes battle at the SCG after testing positive to COVID-19.
Khawaja famously scored centuries in both innings of that Test to re-establish himself as one of Australia's best batters.
He was named the Shane Warne Test Player of the Year last month after scoring 1080 runs with four centuries during 2022.
"It's just nice to go out there and tick off a hundred in India which was something if you told me that five years ago I'd think you were crazy," Khawaja said.
"There was a lot of emotion, I just never expected this to happen.
"I do feel like that monkey went off my back when I scored that hundred in Dubai (against Pakistan in 2018) - but that was Dubai.
"I wanted to do it in the subcontinent, so it's very special."