Top 5 knocks for Australia in the WTC cycle 2021-23

There have been numerous outstanding batting performances by Australian batters in Tests recently [Getty Images]
There have been numerous outstanding batting performances by Australian batters in Tests recently [Getty Images]

The WTC cycle of 2021-23 will culminate with the final between India and Australia at The Oval in London starting Wednesday, June 7. Both teams will be fighting for their maiden WTC mace, with New Zealand clinching the inaugural one at The Rose Bowl in Southampton in 2021.

A victory in the third Test against India at the Holkar stadium in Indore during the Border-Gavaskar trophy cemented Australia’s place in the final of the second cycle of the WTC.

Their campaign started off on a resounding note, a 4-0 thrashing of England in the Ashes down under, with the Aussies a wicket away in the Sydney Test from making it a clean sweep.

A series win on the flat pitches of Pakistan and a 1-1 draw away at Sri Lanka helped them accumulate points from the tough Asian leg of the cycle.

Comfortable wins over West Indies and South Africa at home put the Australians in a good position on the overall points table. The qualification was sealed despite the series loss in India.

It has been an all-round performance from the team with players from all departments getting Australia to the summit clash. While their renowned bowling attack did their magic, their batters didn't let down the team too often either.

Ahead of the final against India, we look at the five best knocks by an Australian in this WTC cycle (2021-23):

#5 Usman Khawaja - 105 vs Pakistan in Lahore (3rd Test)

Usman Khawaja after his century vs Pakistan [Getty Images]
Usman Khawaja after his century vs Pakistan [Getty Images]

A hard-fought 1-0 victory over Pakistan away from home saw only one player from Australia score a hundred. That player was Usman Khawaja, interestingly from a Pakistani family, who scored two centuries in the three-match series.

He first scored a brilliant 160 in the second Test in Karachi before hitting another hundred in the decisive third Test in Lahore. His knock of 105 proved to be a series-clinching one for Australia.

After the visitors gained a 123-run first-innings lead, they needed some crucial runs on Day 4 in order to win the game. Khawaja, who was having a superlative series in the country of his birth, continued his run-scoring spree and made a century which took Australia to 227/3 in just 60 overs.

They decided to declare with four sessions remaining in the game, and set Pakistan a target of 351. A brilliant five-wicket haul by Nathan Lyon and a three-wicket haul by Pat Cummins saw Australia bundle out Pakistan on the last day of Day 5 as the visitors wrapped up the series with a resounding win.

Khawaja was given the 'Player of the Series' award for his 496 runs at a gigantic average of 163.5 across five innings.

#4 Marnus Labuschagne - 204 vs West Indies in Perth (1st Test)

Marnus Labuschagne has continued his prolific run-getting for Australia
Marnus Labuschagne has continued his prolific run-getting for Australia

World's No. 1 Test batter Marnus Labuschagne scored the highest individual score by an Australian batter in the WTC 2021-23 cycle. This happened when he clobbered 204 runs in the first innings of the first Test against West Indies in 2022.

After opting to bat first, Australia lost David Warner early. Then came Labuschagne, who steadied the ship with Usman Khawaja. While Khawaja was dismissed for 65, Labuschagne continued his merciless attack on the Caribbean bowlers.

He ended Day 1 with an individual score of 154*. Despite West Indies desperate for a breakthrough in cloudy conditions conducive to swing bowling, the right-hander continued from where he left off overnight. He stubbornly piled more misery on the tourists.

Labuschagne smashed fast bowler Jayden Seales through the covers for his 20th boundary to bring up his double century. However, he was caught behind for 204. The 28-year-old batted for 483 minutes and hit a six and 20 fours off 350 balls.

Steve Smith also scored a double ton during the innings as Australia declared on a humongous score of 598/4. After gaining a 315-run lead in the first innings, Labuschagne hit another century in the second innings.

Australia eventually recorded a victory by 164 runs as Labuschagne deservingly won the Player of the Match award.

#3 Usman Khawaja - 180 vs India in Ahmedabad (4th Test)

Usman Khawaja was Australia's leading batter in India too
Usman Khawaja was Australia's leading batter in India too

Usman Khawaja, who scored 1,608 runs in the 2021-23 WTC cycle, also smashed as many as six centuries during this period. However, his most impressive ton came in India when he smoked 180 runs in the first innings of the fourth Test of the Border-Gavasker series.

On a placid surface with no demons in it, Australia began proceedings well with a 61-run opening partnership. Travis Head lost his wicket after scoring 32, but Khawaja held up his end admirably.

The southpaw negotiated the Indian pacers well, while also getting himself a few runs. He then rarely deviated from his method of playing the hosts' spinners off the back foot, punishing them when they dropped short and blocking away the good deliveries.

After reaching his fifty off 146 balls, Khawaja smashed a wonderful century in the last over of Day 1. Khawaja continued his onslaught the next day and added 76 more runs to end up on 180. He faced 422 balls under hot and humid conditions in Ahmedabad.

On the back of his contribution, Australia made 480 runs in the first innings. Team India replied with a score of 571, with both Virat Kohli (186) and Shubman Gill (128) scoring centuries. The game finished in a draw, with India winning the series 2-1.

#2 David Warner - 200 vs South Africa in Melbourne (2nd Test)

David Warner
David Warner

A special innings by a special player on a special occasion. David Warner, who was playing the 100th Test of his career, slammed a marvellous double century against South Africa at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in December last year.

Warner, who was under significant pressure leading up to the MCG Test after a prolonged lean patch in the format, batted his heart out against a fiery Proteas pace attack. Despite losing Usman Khawaja and Marnus Labuschagne early in the innings, Warner asserted his authority and played some exhilarating strokes.

En route to his knock, Warner was even injured when a blazing delivery by Anrich Nortje hit Warner on his head. Unfazed, Warner put his head down to motor to 100, punching the air when he got there with a boundary after a near-flawless knock.

Warner upped the ante after his century and raced to 200 off 254 balls before getting cleaned up by Nortje. Alex Carey also smashed his maiden Test century as Australia declared on 575/8 and took a lead of 389 runs.

The hosts bundled out the Proteas on 204 and eventually won the game by an innings and 182 runs.

#1 Travis Head - 152 vs England in Brisbane (1st Test)

Travis Head was a key player for Australia in this WTC cycle
Travis Head was a key player for Australia in this WTC cycle

Before England's 'Bazball' approach surfaced in Test cricket, Travis Head hit the Three Lions with his own quickfire knock to set the tone for the 2021-22 Ashes series.

In the opening game of the all-important tour, Head scored a brilliant 152 off just 148 balls and put Australia on top. He almost single-handedly demolished the English bowling attack.

Prior to the game, a few questions were raised about Head's inclusion in the side. However, the left-hander firmly justified his selection with a whirlwind knock.

Head came in to bat in the middle of a mini-collapse from Australia as they lost four wickets for just 29 runs. His counter-attacking knock denied England a path back into the match.

Head, who finished Day 2 unbeaten on 112 runs off only 95 balls, went on to hit the highest individual score of the series - 152. He smashed 14 fours and four maximums during his stay.

Head's innings gave Australia a 287-run first-innings lead, which led them to a nine-wicket win. This win set the home side on their way to nearly whitewashing the English team in this series.

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Edited by Akshay Saraswat
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