Team rally around ‘shocked’ Khawaja

The middle of Adelaide Oval has proven Usman Khawaja’s happy place in the past, now it shapes as a sanctuary for the batsman after the arrest of his brother for allegedly perverting the course of justice and forging a document.

Khawaja is set to take his place in Australia’s XI in the four-Test series opener against India, which starts on Thursday.

The batsman is being supported by teammates and Cricket Australia staff, while wife Rachel is in Adelaide with him.

Arsalan Tariq Khawaja was arrested in Sydney on Tuesday following a counter-terrorism investigation. He was freed on bail amid accusations he framed a colleague with a fake terror hit list targeting senior politicians in a feud over a woman.

Usman Khawaja didn’t train with the Test squad on Wednesday but skipping the optional pre-match session is how the stylish left-hander, renowned for his relaxed demeanour, has prepared for almost all of his 35 Tests.

Coach Justin Langer suggested Khawaja is “absolutely” ready to play the first Test, noting the squad has rallied around the batsman.

“We look after each other as well as we can. One of our values is our mates,” Langer told radio station SEN.

“We’re keeping an eye on Uzzy. It was obviously a little bit of a shock for him yesterday.

“He’s got great family support, great support around him. I know his wife’s here with him and we’ll look after him.

“I’ve heard a lot of cricketers say that their actual sanctuary is out in the middle playing cricket, so while there’s a lot going on in his personal life, we’re all around him to support him.

“He’s a terrific player and usually as cool as a cucumber. I’m sure there’s a few things going on in his mind and his heart, on the outside he’ll be as cool and calm as usual.”

Adelaide was the scene of one of Khawaja’s career highlights, when he scored 145 against South Africa in 2016.

He suffered a knee injury during Australia’s previous Test, played two months ago in the UAE, and had been racing the clock to prove his fitness.

The Queensland captain demonstrated great resilience and composure throughout that recovery process, as was the case during an epic 141 in October that helped Australia salvage a draw in Dubai.

“He’s a really calm, composed young man,” Langer said.

Khawaja read a prepared statement on Tuesday, asking the media to “please respect my privacy and my family’s privacy”.

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