Ahmedabad, Mar 9 (IANS): Australia's left-handed opener Usman Khawaja stated getting a century in India was very special for him as it was something which he wanted to tick off as a Test cricket playing batter.
After Australia elected to bat first on a nice batting pitch, Khawaja kept his calm, played late and with soft hands to hit 15 fours in his 251-ball stay for a fine 104 not out. It is also Australia's first century of the ongoing tour, which came on the last over before stumps.
"It was a lot of emotion in that. I have been to India on two tours before this, and carried the drinks in all eight Test matches. It was a long journey, and to finally get a hundred in India, as an Australian, that's what you want to do, it's what you want to tick off, so it's very special," said Khawaja at the end of day's play to broadcasters.
Khawaja was also involved in a 61-run opening stand with Travis Head, setting the base for Australia reaching 255/4 at stumps on day one. "Head took down the new ball initially at the start and we didn't say anything as he was just smacking. My plan was to take a single and get him on strike. But it was pretty good to watch that."
For Khawaja, anything fuller or on pads from spinners was met with a neat glance. There were no premeditated strokes or sweeps on offer. He rarely attacked outside the off stump, but made full use of anything coming overpitched in the afternoon session, which was also the first wicketless session of the series.
"It was such a nice wicket; I just didn't want to give my wicket away. Pretty much all times I just wanted to hit over, which is what I normally do in the sub-continent. But today was like, try to get me out. It was a mental battle more than anything."
"You need to put your ego away. You need to keep doing it for a long time, and just follow the processes and keep batting for the team as longer as possible. I've got no superstitions... just run through, stretch," he added.
Khawaja's superb efforts got him praise from former Australia opener Matthew Hayden, who was on commentary duties. "He's yielded the dividends of great patience today, 246 deliveries just a testimony to his concentration and skill."
"He's looked very much in control in this series. This is what was needed, a hundred. He needs to get a big hundred as well, bat once and bat India out of the game."
Former India head coach Ravi Shastri echoed in the same vein. "Runs have not been easy. He's had to fight for every single."