Ashes 2021-22: Khawaja punishes England again as Australia hunt victory

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Usman Khawaja capped a magnificent return to Australia's team as he claimed his second century of the fourth Ashes Test in Sydney.

Khawaja, who came into the team at Sydney Cricket Ground in place of Travis Head, propelled Australia to 461-8 with a resilient 137 in the first innings and after England showed grit on day three, the batsman ensured day four belonged to Australia with a superb, unbeaten 101.

It was not all plain sailing for Australia, though, with Khawaja having come in at 68-3.

Having reached stumps on Friday trailing Australia by 158, England added 36 to their overnight total, reaching 294 before Stuart Broad fell for the final wicket, shortly after the tourist's own centurion, Jonny Bairstow, had been dismissed by Scott Boland (4-36).

England's bowlers responded strongly, Mark Wood (2-65) sending David Warner packing inside six overs.

Jack Leach (4-84) dismissed Marcus Harris (27) and bowled Steve Smith (23), either side of Wood claiming the important wicket of Marnus Labuschagne (29), but it was then that Khawaja came to the fore.

While his first innings had been rather nervier, Khawaja was fully into his stride on Saturday, slog-sweeping Leach and Joe Root for big sixes and hitting 10 boundaries while Cameron Green (74) supported at the other end.

A Dawid Malan googly provided Khawaja the chance to move onto 100, sparking jubilant scenes from the crowd.

Green's impressive stand was ended by Leach, who was then denied the shot at a hat-trick as Pat Cummins declared on 265-6 after the spinner had claimed Alex Carey leg before wicket with the next ball.

With a daunting target of 388 to win but rain forecasted for Sunday, England held their nerve well in a sharp session for openers Zak Crawley and Haseeb Hameed, who guided the tourists to 30-0 at stumps.

Khawaja's magnificent homecoming

Playing on his home ground, Khawaja became the first player to score a century in both innings of an SCG Test in 16 years.

The last player to have achieved the feat was former Australia captain Ricky Ponting in 2006 (120 & 143 not out), and Khawaja's place in the side for the final Test in Hobart is surely safe.

Pope steps in admirably

England had to return to the field without two key players, with wicketkeeper Jos Buttler and his back-up Bairstow both suffering with injuries sustained on day three.

Ollie Pope donned the gloves and claimed four catches in total. Sam Billings, playing for Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash League, was called up to England's squad on Friday.

Billings has played two previous matches at the Blundstone Arena in Hobart, hitting 61 not from 31 balls in a BBL match in January 2018, and 10 from nine balls in a T20I for England a month later.

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