Cricket: Opener Khawaja in control

Form batsman nails down spot to leave former Aussie skipper out in the cold.
Usman Khawaja has cemented his spot at the top of the order for Australia in the World T20. Photo / AP
Usman Khawaja has cemented his spot at the top of the order for Australia in the World T20. Photo / AP

Usman Khawaja has all but ended Aaron Finch's hopes of taking part in cricket's World T20, top-scoring for Australia again.

Khawaja and Finch, the former captain and No1 batsman on the International Cricket Council's T20 rankings, were locked in a tight selection struggle in the lead-up to the tournament.

But Khawaja is now the form batsman in Australia's 15-man squad and has nailed down his spot at the top of the order.

Shane Watson is yet to deliver a big score at the event but impressed with the ball in both matches, suggesting Finch will find it hard to break into the XI against Pakistan or India.

Khawaja's classy 58 against Bangladesh helped Australia haul in their target of 157 with nine balls remaining.

As was the case against New Zealand, Khawaja looked to be batting on a different pitch to his teammates.

The 29-year-old was in control of the chase until the 14th over, when he attempted to clip a ball off his pads but was instead bowled by Al-Amin Hossain.

Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Mortaza acknowledged the damage had already been done at that point.

"He set the tone again for Australia today. He batted really well and took the game away from us," Mashrafe said.

"He's been in good form, even in Big Bash for his team."

Khawaja dominated the recent Big Bash League season, crafting two centuries to help deliver Sydney Thunder their maiden title.

On-duty selector Mark Waugh, while commentating during the BBL, famously compared Khawaja to Brian Lara at his best.

Melbourne Stars legspinner Adam Zampa was one of many bowlers frustrated by Khawaja's excellence during that competition.

Now Zampa is enjoying the way Khawaja is tormenting attacks at the World T20.

"I unfortunately had to see it a couple of times in the Big Bash," Zampa said. "When he's facing spin out there at the moment, I'm feeling pretty confident in his ability."

Khawaja's T20 form

• 497 runs from nine innings at an average of 71 and strike-rate of 153.4

• Passed 50 on five occasions, four of them while playing for the Thunder.

• 58 against Bangladesh was highest T20 score for Australia, has also posted career-best test and ODI scores this summer.

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