Usman Khawaja left 'stranded' in visa farce ahead of India tour
The 36-year-old did not leave with the rest of the national team for India.
Usman Khawaja is sweating over a visa to enter India having not departed with the rest of the 17-man Aussie Test squad ahead of their February 9 opener in Nagpur. Australia's Test squad took staggered flights to the subcontinent on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Khawaja was not on either of these two flights, with AAP reporting the batter had not been due to fly out until Thursday. However, Australia's Test cricketer of the year took to social media to express his surprise over a visa debacle.
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The batter was in good spirits as he joked that he was 'stranded' as he waited around for his his visa approval, just like the rest of his teammates that had departed. A Cricket Australia official told AAP the governing body was aware of the situation and was hopeful Khawaja would be approved for entry into India imminently.
Remarkably, this will be the first time Khawaja lines up in the baggy green for Australia against India. Despite the visa issue, Khawaja has been cleared to play in India across different formats on a number of occasions.
He toured with the Test team in 2013, represented Rising Pune Supergiant in the IPL in 2016. He played for Australia A on an Indian tour in 2018, and toured again with the national ODI team in 2019.
This is also not the first time he has had to wait for a visa issue to be resolved. In the 2022 One Day International tour of India, Khawaja had his passport withheld. In 2011, Khawaja also waited on a delay to get his visa for the Champions Trophy in India.
Usman Khawaja lights up Australian Cricket Awards
On Monday, Khawaja stole the show with a beautiful speech at the Australian Cricket Awards after winning the inaugural Shane Warne award as men's Test player of the year. Khawaja wasn't even in Australia's Test side for the first three matches against England in the Ashes last summer, but has certainly made the most of his recall.
The opener came back into the Test side for the fourth Test at the SCG in 2021 after Travis Head was forced to miss the match. Khawaja smacked a century in both innings, forcing selectors to keep him in the side and leave Marcus Harris out. He went on to score 1020 runs at an average of 78.46 in the voting period - the most by any Aussie Test player.
While the 36-year-old had the crowd laughing throughout his speech, Khawaja did get serious when he made special mention of the support his wife Rachel has given him throughout his career. "You are the rock. You know how much I love you,” he said.
“When I got dropped in 2019, you gave me unconditional love. I’m getting emotional thinking about a very tough time in my life. You loved me when I was playing for Australia, you loved me when I was playing for Queensland, even when I was a ‘clubbie’ playing for ‘Valleys’ you gave me unconditional love.
“You love Usman Khawaja the person, not Usman Khawaja the cricketer – and for that, I’m truly indebted to you. Without you, I wouldn’t be standing here right now."
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