ICC World Cup 2019: Ricky Ponting feels Usman Khawaja must be in Australia’s squad
"I would be surprised if he wasn’t in the squad."
Published - Mar 20, 2019 2:03 pm | Updated - Mar 20, 2019 2:04 pm
Five-time ICC World Cup winners Australia will be defending their crown when the 2019 edition of the World Cup begins in England and Wales on Thursday, May 30. Australia will be playing Pakistan in their last limited-overs engagement before the ICC event.
Their World Cup campaign received a significant boost when they defeated India in the ODI series despite being 0-2 down and won the last three matches to triumph in the end. Their chances of defending the World Cup also received a boost thanks to returns of Steve Smith and David Warner.
However, assistant coach of the Australia team and three-time World Cup winner Ricky Ponting feels that despite the returns of Warner and Smith, opener Usman Khawaja too deserves a spot in the squad for England and Wales.
Khawaja must go to England for the World Cup, says Ponting
Usman Khawaja was in the form of his life in the India ODI series, scoring two centuries and ending up with 383 runs, as he opened the innings in place of Warner. Khawaja had not scored a century in ODIs before this and Ponting feels that despite the return of Warner and Smith, Khawaja must be included in the Australian squad for World Cup.
“I think we all saw over the last few weeks just how skillful a player Usman Khawaja is… and I think when you see him play like that it just makes you wonder why he doesn’t do it a bit more regularly. I would be surprised if Khawaja wasn’t in the (World Cup) squad. Khawaja could probably slot down at three when Warner comes in and Steve Smith might bat at four or five or something just to shore up those middle overs,” Ponting was quoted as saying by Deccan Chronicle.
Ponting also felt that presence of Steve Smith, the former Australian captain will help Aaron Finch, the current skipper in the field. He said, “(Smith) is still out on the field, so he can help Aaron Finch out. I’d imagine that Aaron Finch would be leaning on Steve Smith a lot for a bit of advice, maybe leading into the games, as far as preparation is concerned.”