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Austalian batsman emphasizes ‘room for improvement’ for team’s top batting order

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Usman Khawaja feels ‘need for improvement’ in the top batting order.

The second Ashes test began with a surprise as England unexpectedly opted to bowl first and test Australia’s top order. Australian batting lineup knew it was going to be a challenge, as Joe Root took the controversial decision at the toss. Some critics felt that it was a rather conservative decision. But the England captain thought that aiming for Australian batting order was their only chance at getting back in the series, under overcast conditions.

Australian batsman Usman Khawaja has taken notice of the issues in Australia’s batting. He has called upon the entire top order to bring improvements in their performances so as to secure a victory in the ongoing Ashes series.

”There is improvement for us as a top (batting) order”

Australia’s victory has somehow shadowed bigger concerns over their batting against the pink ball and cool conditions of England.  Australia finished on 209/4 and – pleasingly for them – weren’t dependent on leaders Steve Smith and David Warner for most of the runs.

Steve Smith and Usman Khawaja
Australian captain Steve Smith [Left] and Usman Khawaja

“I think we are pretty happy at the end of the day but it will be important how we bat tomorrow,” Usman Khawaja, the Australian No.3, told reporters on Saturday (December 2). “It was good (the even contributions). But all of us would have liked to have gone on with it more. We did have a good start today but there is improvement for us as a top order and hopefully, we will see that as the series goes on,” he added.

Australia’s batting order managed to take a notch at the end of day one

Over the years, Australia’s batting consisted of one gear of attack, in all conditions, be it Ashes or any other series. But it has taken time and some losses to understand their play and start playing smarter than before. Australia’s batting is showing more awareness of the situation. It was shown in the last session under lights and pink ball menaces. They lost Khawaja (53) on resumption and Smith (40) shortly after. Australia were 161/4 with still 19 overs remaining just as captain Joe Root would’ve wanted.

Khawaja paid tribute to Handscomb and Marsh saying “A lot of credit to them, it’s a tough time to bat.”

Shaun Marsh [Left] and Peter Handscomb batted Australia through a tough period on Day 1
“Peter batted beautifully, he goes about it differently but he’s doing it perfectly. If you can get through that (the last session) unscathed, you cash in more the next day. The guys are going to have to work hard tomorrow and set up a good total tomorrow,” he said.

He also added, “You have to be patient, it was a classic day one wicket. I think it was pretty normal for pink ball day one in Adelaide.”

Shaun Marsh capitalised on his start and was playing at 126 at the time of Australia’s declaration. Tim Paine, on the other hand, made 57 before falling to Craig Overton. It will be interesting to see how the duo performs in the second innings with Australia in a situation of peril at 53-4. Paine is on the crease, having scored 3 of 10 while Marsh is yet to bat.

Author’s Take

The way Australia struggled with their top order it is important for them to improve. it is important so that there is less pressure on their middle order during the rest of the Ashes series. They were saved by their mid-order batsman, Handscomb(36), Marsh(126) and Paine(57). They have still managed to show a determined performance at the end of the day. Time will tell whether they can match up for their unsteady batting lineup.

The match is poised finely at the end of day 3. Australia currently lead England by 268 runs but with a score of 53-4 England will still believe that they can level the series. Should they bowl out Australia before the end of the second session on day 4, England will back themselves to score around 350-370 in more than 4 sessions. The first ever day-night Ashes test match is only entering its 4th but has already lived up to expectations.

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