Usman Khawaja has become the third player in cricket history to score four Test centuries at the SCG and fourth to make three in a row at the venue. The Aussie opener brought up triple figures on Thursday morning in the third Test against South Africa, passing 100 for the third-consecutive innings in Sydney.
He joins Wally Hammond, Doug Walters and VVS Laxman as the only other players to achieve that feat, while Aussie legend Ricky Ponting (six) and teammate Steve Smith (four) are the only other players in history to score at least four tons in Sydney.
'RIDICULOUS': Marnus Labuschagne responds after Test farce panned
In a rare vein of form since being recalled to Australia's Test team, Khawaja scored twin tons at the SCG last summer during the Ashes. His century on Thursday marked his fifth in his most recent stint as a Test opener. "My wife and two kids are here, it's just a really nice feeling," he told Fox Sports at the lunch break.
After resuming on 51 not out on Thursday morning, the left-hander hit out-of-sorts spinner Keshav Maharaj back over cover for six midway through the first session. He brought up his century when he pulled Kagiso Rabada to the leg side for two, after also late-cutting the quick for four earlier in the over.
Unable to hold down a spot for the majority of his Test career, the 36-year-old has now averaged more than 70 since his comeback to the national side.
Khawaja reached triple figures after South Africa's tactics were panned by commentators. The Aussie batter plundered runs off Maharaj, leading Kerry O'Keeffe to question Proteas captain Dean Elgar.
“I’d have (Simon) Harmer on now because there’s no seam or swing from (Marco) Jansen, so he’s really just bowling 130km/h, looking for angle," O'Keefee said at one stage. “These are too easy runs. You’ve got to make this pair work and put them under some pressure, and I’m not sure if there’s enough in it for the quicks to do that.”
South Africa panned as Usman Khawaja makes century
Khawaja combined with Marnus Labuschagne for a 135-run partnership on the opening day before the latter was dismissed with the final ball before bad light stopped play. “I’m astounded at the captaincy,” Mark Waugh said in commentary for Fox Sports. “I can’t believe Harmer is off and Maharaj is still on.
“I don’t understand the tactic. I thought Harmer looked good. He was getting some drift, some spin. He’s been taken off. Maharaj hasn’t looked like getting a wicket and he’s still bowling.”
Khawaja and Steve Smith then put on a 209-run partnership on Thursday as Smith brought up his own century shortly before tea. Smith joined Khawaja in scoring his fourth career ton in Sydney, with only Ponting ahead of them with six.
Smith also took a liking to Maharaj, at one stage hitting the finger-spinner over the leg side for six, then again going long on the next ball through the same region for four. Smith also looked comfortable against Rabada, who has been rather unthreatening throughout series.
Cricket fans and commentators were over the moon for Khawaja, who was the only batter in Australia's top order not to score a century before this Test so far this summer. The opener finished on 195 not out at stumps on Thursday after rain cruelly brought an end to the day's play with Khawaja eyeing off his first double century.
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.