Usman Khawaja departs for India after visa approval


Australia’s Usman Khawaja celebrates reaching his century (100 runs) during day two of the third cricket Test match between Australia and South Africa at the Sydney Cricket Ground. — AFP/File

Australia’s star batter Usman Khawaja flew to India on Thursday as his visa was approved by the authorities.

The paperwork was received overnight on Wednesday and Khawaja was confirmed to depart on Thursday, according to Cricket Australia.

The left-hander will join the rest of the squad in Bengaluru where they are training at facilities in Alur, before moving to Nagpur for next week’s first Test.

Players will acclimatise with subcontinental conditions over the next few days, with the series likely to be played in mostly spin-friendly conditions.

It must be noted that the Pakistan-born batter was the only player in Australia’s squad not to board because his visa had not arrived in time.

Pakistan and India have had strained relations since partition in 1947 and those tensions have routinely seeped into sports.

The two countries last played a bilateral series a decade ago and Pakistani players have been barred from the prestigious T20 Indian Premier League.

Khawaja has made multiple trips to India including both the 2013 and 2017 Test tours. The left-hander also faced visa challenges when he visited India in 2011 for the T20 Champions League due to, what he described at the time, as an ‘admin quirk’.

It must be noted that Khawaja, 36, claimed the Shane Warne award as Australia’s men’s Test player of the year on Monday after a prolific 12 months during which he scored 1,020 runs at an average of 78.46.

The first Test between the two sides will be played in Nagpur from February 9.

After the opener in Nagpur, Australia also play Tests in New Delhi, Dharamsala and Ahmedabad with an ODI series to follow.

Australia squad

Pat Cummins (c), Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Peter Handscomb, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Lance Morris, Todd Murphy, Matthew Renshaw, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson and David Warner.


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