Khawaja gets Test lifeline with Aus A call-up
Sydney: Usman Khawaja has the chance to win back his place in Australia's Test lineup after being named on Tuesday in an Australia A team to play Pakistan in a three-day tour match next month.
Khawaja, who was dropped after the third Ashes Test in England in August, has been named beside Test hopefuls Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Will Pucovski and Nic Maddinson for the day-night match at Perth Stadium from November 11.
The match offers players a last chance to impress selectors before the first Test against Pakistan which starts at Brisbane's Gabba ground on November 21. Khawaja made 122 runs at an average of 20.3 in the first three Tests of the Ashes series before being dropped for the fourth.
He recovered some form in the domestic Marsh Cup one-day series this season with back-to-back centuries for Queensland against Victoria.
Former Australia coach Darren Lehmann has been among those backing Khawaja's recall, citing his excellent test record in Australia.
"If you look at his record in Australia on its own it's outstanding," Lehmann told Fairfax Media. "He had to come back and make runs and he has done that in his first two games in the Marsh Cup, has made very good hundreds for Queensland.
"Again, it will get down to (Sheffield) Shield performances I suppose but if you look at horses for courses in Australia, he has been very good."
Harris is the incumbent test opener and likely to retain his place but two places appear to remain open in the Australia batting lineup; another opener and No. 6. Mitch Marsh left the No. 6 spot vacant when he injured his hand punching a wall after his dismissal in a Shield match earlier this month.
Pucovski has a chance to seal the spot after narrowly missing out on a Test debut against Sri Lanka last summer.
Head, who was vice-captain during the Ashes series, has also batted at No. 6 but has yet to find form in the domestic first-class competition.
He was overlooked for the captaincy of the Australia A team in favor of wicketkeeper Alex Carey. Maddinson is seen as an outsider for Test selection.