Hard work pays off for Australia hero Khawaja
Usman Khawaja feels his heroic hundred for Australia in the first Test against Pakistan was rich reward for the hard work he has put in during his career.
The batsman followed up his first-innings 85 with 141 second time around, helping the tourists stand firm on the final day of the series opener to secure an unlikely draw.
Khawaja has been criticised in the past for his relaxed demeanour and a perceived inability to play against spin, yet the left-hander demonstrated he has both the talent and temperament to succeed in tough circumstances during his match-defining knock in Dubai.
While not quite able to see Australia to safety, the 31-year-old's defiance laid the platform for captain Tim Paine to combine with the tail to repel Pakistan's bowlers in a gripping finish to the game.
"A lot of work goes into playing cricket at the highest level. I've worked as hard as anyone," Khawaja told the media.
"I've worked my backside off for the last 10 years in first-class cricket, day in, day out. People don't think that because of my relaxed nature. They think I've been gifted to be able to get to where I am. But that's not the case.
"I've worked as hard as I can in different conditions, like here and in England. People overlook that kind of stuff, but you don't get to play at this level without putting in the hard yards.
"There is no secret to success - just hard work. I was just grateful to be out there playing for Australia, getting a hundred for Australia. Any time you get a hundred it's a great feeling."
That is a magnificent effort by our boys in the baggy green. Great fighting qualities and Khawaja one of the best tons you will ever see. #cmon— Mark Waugh (@juniorwaugh349) October 11, 2018
While occupying the crease was crucial to his side's survival hopes, Khawaja kept a positive mindset throughout, rather than letting the match situation alter his usual approach to batting.
"I was just batting like it was any other innings, no matter whether it was a fourth innings and we were trying to save the game. I knew if I went away from just trying to bat I was more likely to get out in those conditions," he added.
"We were pretty positive the whole way through, even when trying to save the game. It was more of a mindset thing to stay positive, because you know in these conditions that once you worry about blocking it out, it can become quite tough."
Paine - who finished unbeaten on 61 from 194 deliveries - praised the way Australia fought back after losing 10 wickets for 60 runs in their first innings on the third day.
"Coming from where we came from after the collapse on day three, I'm really proud of the whole group. They stuck to their plans and kept digging in," the wicketkeeper-batsman said.
"I'm also extremely proud of Usman as well…one of the great Test innings.
"We spoke pre-series about the need to really fight here and show real patience. It's one thing to talk about it, it's another to do it after a 60 for 10 collapse. That can shake a few peoples' belief.
"We never lost hope we could do that [save the game]. There were a few times when I thought it was just a dream, but we dug in to play a brand of cricket the Australian team want to play."