Usman Khawaja has reflected on a ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ which has seen him go from a perceived sub-continent liability to Australia’s most in-form batsman.
The veteran opener scored a brilliant century on the opening day of the fourth Test against India, finishing not-out overnight and become the first Aussie to reach triple-figures for the entire series.
Khawaja spent plenty of time out of the Test side during previous tours of Asia, with many questioning his ability to play spin and score runs on sub-continent pitches.
But speaking to the media at the close of play in Ahmedabad, the 36-year-old reflected on the times he was doubted and how that drove him to further back his ability.
MORE: Why are Australia wearing black armbands against India?
“It was a self-fulfilling prophecy in its own way,” Khawaja said.
“People start saying that, then perception is reality…any time I got out to spin, people were like, ‘you can’t play spin’ and I probably started believing it myself.
“I didn’t really get the support from the people around me at the time, didn’t feel like the team really supported me, didn’t feel like the coaching staff and selectors really supported me through that journey…it just made it so hard.
“Whether I was or wasn’t – yes I’m a better player of spin now, no doubt about that, I have more shots, better defence – but I didn’t really get the opportunity to learn at that early stage.”
Khawaja’s late-career rejuvenation at the top of the order has been a shining light for Australia, but the clock is still ticking on a rollercoaster career.
The left-hander admitted the emotions were running high following his maiden century on Indian soil.
“I don’t think I’ve ever smiled so much on getting a century – there was emotion in it,” Khawaja said.
“I’ve done two tours of India before, carried the drinks for eight Test matches before I got a chance here. Throughout the middle of my career, I got told I couldn’t play spin and that’s why I never got an opportunity to play in India.
“I got an opportunity to play in a white-ball series a few years ago and was man of the series, got an opportunity here again with the red ball.
“It’s just nice to go out there and tick off a hundred in India, which was something if you asked me five years ago (and) you told me that, I’d think you were crazy.
“There was a lot of emotion, I just never expected this to happen.”
Khawaja will resume on 104* on day two against India as the visitors look to level the series.