Aussie cricket fans were left stunned on Thursday when one selfless pull from Usman Khawaja completely backfired on his hope of achieving selection in the first Ashes Test.
Captain Queensland in their Sheffield Shield showdown against South Australia, Khawaja decided to force the follow-up with the Redbacks behind with 197 runs after the first lap.
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The decision was the right one for the situation in the game, but Khawaja could easily have chosen to strike again in an attempt to score some races and impress test voters.
Instead, Khawaja gave Travis Head – his opposing captain and the man fighting for the same spot on the test side – the chance to do just that.
And Head seized the opportunity with both hands and scored a brilliant century that will give test voters plenty of food for thought.
Khawaja’s selfless decision could backfire on a personal level as he is believed to be vying with Head for Australia’s vacant No. 5 spot for the Ashes opening against England.
The follow-up has almost guaranteed Queensland the victory, but Khawaja may not get another chance to push his Ashes case.
After just 88 to win, Queensland were 0-5 on blunt Thursday with Khawaja scheduled to come in as No. 4.
Despite Heads heroism, South Australia were ruled out for 284 in their second half with Bulls paceman Gurinder Sandhu claiming 6-47.
Sandhu, after collecting his best first-class figures and first five-wicket move since his debut Shield game for NSW eight years ago, praised Khawaja’s follow-up decision.
“He’s a captain who puts his team first, that’s great and probably a reason he’s the captain,” Sandhu said.
“He’s not a selfish person at all. That (follow-up) was what the team wanted and he must have felt the same.”
Fans and commentators also praised Khawaja’s team-first move and felt for the unfortunate star.
Queensland on the brink of victory over South Australia
Both Khawaja (four) and Head (eight) failed in the first round at Karen Rolton Oval.
Head did well again in his second grave and reached his second ton of the Shield season from 146 balls with 11 fours.
But the SA captain, who also hit 230 in a one-day game last month, dropped just three balls later.
Heads dismissal ended the Redbacks opposition, with Bulls paceman Gurinder Sandhu claiming 6-47, his best first-class figure.
Ashes outsider Alex Carey was among Sandhus’ victims, out after three, when he was caught by the bat-pad, but repetitions showed that the ball only hit his thigh pad.
SA’s first excavation ended earlier Thursday, when all was out for just 102, with Bulls spinner Matt Kuhnemann also collecting career-best numbers of his 5-25, which showed the scalp of Head and Carey (two) on Wednesday.
Batting first, Queensland posted 299 with Test star Marnus Labuschagne tops with 110.
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