World T20: Khawaja undervalued in top Aussie runscorer market

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In November last year, Usman Khawaja returned to international cricket from a two-year exile and never looked back.

Recalled to the Australian Test team on the back of a number of batting retirements, the Pakistan-born stroke maker took his chance unequivocally. He made 174 in the first innings of his return outing, against New Zealand, and followed up with 121 in the second Test.

After a brief niggle, he passed the time between red-ball series by turning out for the Sydney Sixers in the Big Bash T20 league. A 109 not out seasonal debut, containing 12 fours and three sixes, was quite the sight.

When the West Indies arrived to battle the Australians in Tests, Khawaja proved that switching between the formats on a domestic and international scale was child’s play.

He scored another ton, 144 this time, against Jason Holder’s men in the Boxing Day Test. His patch of form had many calling him the best batsman on the planet.

Still the left-hander wasn’t finished. He went back to turning out for the Thunder and scored 62, 104 not out and 70 in his next three appearances.

In four games he had plundered 345 Big-Bash runs, putting him second on the highest run-scorers list. Everybody else that joined him in the top 10 played at least eight times.

Another Test-match ton in February – against New Zealand again, this time on tour in the return series – made it six centuries in four months across two formats.

After all that, seeing the former Derbyshire and Lancashire star in Australia’s World T20 is no surprise. However, his status as fifth favourite to be Australia’s top runscorer during the tournament really is.

At 9/2, Khawaja sits behind David Warner, Steve Smith, Shane Watson and Aaron Finch in the betting and it’s a price that should be gobbled up.

Unbelievably, he faces competition for his place in the side. Australia are auditioning Watson, Finch and Khawaja for the two opening spots, with Warner slipping into the middle order with Smith.

However, once Watson kicks one away infront of middle during a warm up match it should clear the path for Khawaja to partner Finch and run away with top-scoring honours.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.