‘Praying keeps me centered’: Usman Khawaja reveals secret behind success

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Praying has been an important resort for Australia’s top-order batsman Usman Khawaja during tough times and the southpaw believes that it has helped him gain his long-running form and secure spots in all three formats for his country.

“The game can be quite tough at times and stressful and emotional,” he said in an interview to ESPNCricinfo.

“I pray. That’s what keeps me centered. The number one most important thing in my life is religion,” he added.

In 2011, Khawaja became the first Muslim cricketer to play for Australia when he made his Test debut in an Ashes Test at Sydney.

Ahead of a tri-nation series in the West Indies, Khawaja looked back upon the harsh times of his cricketing career.

He failed to impress in the initial stage of his international career and was dropped subsequently.

But, that did not weigh down on the left-handed batsman. In 2014, a knee injury which he received just a few weeks after Phil Hughes’ on-field death, ruled him out for six months.

“We obviously lost Hughesy and I did my knee in the space of two weeks, so it was a pretty rough time,” said Khawaja.

However, Khawaja made a remarkable comeback in the international arena with a staggering 174 and 9-not out in a Test against New Zealand at Brisbane in November 2015 and from that point there was no looking back for the striker.

He entered the triple digits thrice after his comeback in the longer version of the game and has maintained an average of 101.85 since November last year.

Khawaja managed to cement his place in the Australian lineup in all three formats after he captained Australia ‘A’ in 2015 during their tour of India.

In the two One-Day Internationals (ODIs) this year, Khawaja has scored 50 and 44 against New Zealand.

Khawaja’s phenomenal run in Australia’s domestic T20 competition, Big Bash League (BBL), earned him a place in the Australian T20I side this year.

He scored 143 runs in four matches, including a fifty, at a strike rate of 137.

In four BBL matches for Sydney Thunders, the Islamabad-born scored 345 runs at a massive average of 172.5. His 40-ball 70 in the final bagged Thunders their first ever BBL title.

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