Sydney: Usman Khawaja returned to haunt England on Thursday with a stylish century four years after plundering another big Ashes hundred at the same ground as Australia took a firm grip of the fourth Test in Sydney.
The Pakistan-born Khawaja, playing his first Test since the 2019 Ashes series in England in place of Covid-isolated Travis Head, was at his unflappable best in compiling 137 off 260 balls to put Australia in charge after a declaration at 416 for eight.
Nathan Lyon smoked Stuart Broad for six over mid-wicket to prompt captain Pat Cummins to end the innings and give Australia’s pace attack seven overs at the weary Englishmen who had toiled for 134 overs in the field. Mitchell Starc was 34 not out at the declaration.
England survived unscathed to the close at 13 without loss with Haseeb Hameed on two and Zak Crawley not out two.
Crawley enjoyed a massive reprieve before he had scored when he was caught by David Warner at slip only for Starc to be no-balled for overstepping.
Khawaja, dropped by Joe Root on 28, made the most of his recall and was finally dismissed late in the day giving Broad his fifth wicket.
Khawaja looked set to be there at the end but an inside edge off Broad cannoned on to his stumps to end his mighty knock and he left the field to a rousing reception.
His ninth Test century came four years after his 171 against England at the same Sydney Cricket Ground, but it may not be enough to keep his spot for the final Hobart Test later this month with Brisbane centurion Head expected to be available for selection.
The elegant 35-year-old left-hander looked in the groove, patient with his shot selection to deny the tourists after Broad had made a double breakthrough after lunch.
Khawaja brought up his century in the over before tea when he whipped spinner Jack Leach behind deep backward square for three.
Khawaja had a let-off on 28 before lunch when Root fumbled a good chance at slip off Leach and then made the tourists pay dearly.
Khawaja’s patient knock stabilised the Australian first innings after Broad had dismissed Steve Smith and Cameron Green in a double breakthrough.
Broad struck twice with the second new ball, removing the thretening Smith for 67 and young all-rounder Green for five.
Broad, following up on his 13th Test dismissal of ‘bunny’ David Warner on the opening day, got Smith for the ninth time in the Ashes, on this occasion caught behind.
Smith was annoyed with himself as he left the wicket as he looked in good nick to score a 28th Test century, 12th in the Ashes and fourth at the SCG.
During his knock, Smith became Australia’s seventh-highest Test run-scorer, passing current team coach Justin Langer’s 7,696 runs. He now has scored 7,734 runs at 60.89.
Broad followed up with the wicket of the tentative Green, who lunged forward and got a thick edge to Zak Crawley at third slip.
Broad went on to take the wicket of Cummins with a vicious rearing delivery for 24 and Khawaja to finish the day with 5-101 off 29 overs.
Australia (1st innings)
D. Warner c Crawley b Broad 30
M. Harris c Root b Anderson 38
M. Labuschagne c Buttler b Wood 28
S. Smith c Buttler b Broad 67
U. Khawaja b Broad 137
C. Green c Crawley b Broad 5
A. Carey c Bairstow b Root 13
P. Cummins c Buttler b Broad 24
M. Starc Not Out 34
N. Lyon Not Out 16
Extras 0b 8lb 4nb 0pen 12w 24
Total (134.0 overs) 416 decl Fall of Wickets : 1-51 Warner, 2-111 Harris, 3-117 Labuschagne, 4-232 Smith, 5-242 Green, 6-285 Carey, 7-331 Cummins, 8-398 Khawaja.
Bowling: Anderson 30 9 54 1; Broad 29 5 101 5; Stokes 13.5 3 37 0; Wood 26.1 6 76 1; Leach 24 2 89 0; Malan 3 0 15 0; Root 8 0 36 1.
England (1st innings)
H. Hameed batting 2
Z. Crawley batting 2
Extras (4b 4lb 1nb 0pen 0w) 9
Total (5 overs) 13-0
Bowling: Cummins 3 2 1 0; Starc 2 0 4 0.