‘Not really sure’: Khawaja poses Smith question

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Steve Smith and Usman Khawaja could continue their opening partnership against India. Picture: Mark Brake/Getty Images

Australian opener Usman Khawaja has cast some doubt over Steve Smith being his partner at the top of the order for this summer’s blockbuster series against India, declaring it would be “silly” not to have a conversation about the best mix for the team.

Smith mounted a private campaign to take over as Khawaja’s opening partner in the wake of David Warner’s retirement, with national selectors happy to abide to ensure all-rounder Cameron Green could get back into the starting XI.

In eight innings, first against the West Indies in Australia and then the Kiwis in New Zealand, Smith returned six scores under 12, including a duck, with an unbeaten 91 in a losing cause in Brisbane the only standout innings.

Khawaja, who will turn 38 during the five-match series against the Indians, who have been victorious in the past two series against Australia in Australia, said he had “no issues” batting with Smith, whom he has known since they were teenagers.

But whether they would remain the ideal opening combination in what looms as a close series remains unclear.

“I got along with Steve Smith really well. I’m good mates with him, I’ve known him since we were 14 years old. I’ve always enjoyed batting with Steve Smith,” Khawaja said in Melbourne on Monday.

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Usman Khawaja during a Prime Video Cricket promotion on Monday. Picture: Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images for TGI

“Whether or not it’s the best combination for the team, I’m not really sure. It will be an interesting question.

“There’s still a lot of time between now, a T20 World Cup to win. There’s like four or five months before the first Test match.

“It would be silly not to have the conversation about what our best six looks like and what order. I’m not involved in those conversations. I have my opinion, but whatever happens it will be the best for the team, which has always been the case.”

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Khawaja and Steve Smith batting together. Picture: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Khawaja expected little, if any, movement in the Test side when the series begins in November but said every time an Australian team takes the field, discussions take place to ensure it’s the best possible one for the opponent and the conditions.

He had no doubt those same conversations would happen before the first Test against India when it came to not just Smith’s position but the entire line-up.

“I don’t expect the Australian team to change too much. It’s been a pretty similar team for the last two years other than Davey (Warner) going out,” he said.

“The top six is pretty settled, the bowlers are pretty settled. It will be just about what the coach and the captain and the selectors think is the best mix, which is always the case.

“Every game we play the conversation is had, ‘who do we pick? Do we need this bowler’? The conversation is always there.”

The first of five Tests against India begins on November 22 in Perth.