Australia batsman Usman Khawaja has expressed his frustration at missing the one-day international series against New Zealand earlier this year, having instead headed early to a pre-India tour training camp in Dubai.
In a bid to overturn their barren run in Tests in India, Australia’s original 16-man squad trained at the ICC’s cricket academy in the United Arab Emirates weeks out from the first match of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series.
Although the tourists lost the series 2-1 to the world’s No.1 ranked Test side, the Dubai camp was widely hailed as a key factor in Australia’s improved showing in subcontinental conditions, winning their first Test match win in India in over a decade.
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Only five players – Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Starc – in the India squad took part in the January-February ODI series in New Zealand which overlapped with the Test preparations.
Incumbent No.3 Khawaja led an eight-man advance party to Dubai but was omitted for the first Test, and then the three that followed it.
And after this week being left out of Australia’s 15-man Champions Trophy squad, the 30-year-old now looks back at the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy series, which Australia lost two-nil, as a missed opportunity.
“The most frustrating thing for me was not to play those three ODIs in New Zealand,” Khawaja told FoxSports.
“Getting pulled out from them to come to Dubai to prepare for 10 days and then not play the first Test. So I actually miss out on the one-day matches for Australia.
“For me that was the tough part.
“I got pulled out of that series to prepare for India and then not playing was a bit hard.”
Despite a stellar home summer with the bat in which he struck 581 runs at 58.10 in six Tests and posted a stirring 145 against South Africa under lights in Adelaide, there was no room for Khawaja at the top of Australia’s order in India.
Captain Steve Smith moved up a spot to first-drop while Marsh slotted in at No.4.
Khawaja had failed to pass 30 in his four hits against Sri Lanka in August, Australia’s most recent Test tour of the subcontinent prior to the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, while Marsh had posted a century in the final match of that series.
While the Pakistan-born batsman’s average sits below 20 in Tests in Asia, he’s only played four matches in total, all of which have come in Sri Lanka.
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“The selectors went for a gut feel I assume and that is their job,” Khawaja continued.
“I have not played a Test match in India yet and it is hard fact to take because at least I can prove to myself and to other people that I can do well out here.”
Khawaja nonetheless praised coach Darren Lehmann for how he helped him handle his…