Having won the 2021-22 edition of Ashes 4-0 at home, Australia have embarked on the tour of Pakistan with their confidence being sky-high.
It is a historic tour as the Aussies are visiting Pakistan for the first time since 1998. The tour is even more special for Australia batter Usman Khawaja as he is returning to the country of his birth for the first time as an international cricketer.
Born in 1986 in Pakistan’s capital city Islamabad, Khawaja spent his childhood and teenage days in Australia as his family moved to Sydney when he was only 4.
“The fact that I am playing in Pakistan is special, very special,” Khawaja told reporters ahead of the first Test, slated to be held in Rawalpindi from March 4.
“I always wanted to play in Pakistan as I said down the road. There is that bit of sentiment definitely, but once the game starts you don’t think about that stuff.
“I look forward to playing in Rawalpindi, where I went to the old stadium as a kid and have played once,” he added.
“Karachi is also special to my heart, where my relatives live, but since we are in a security bubble there is no chance of meeting anyone.”
The second Test is due to be played in Karachi from March 12-16 while Lahore will stage the third Test from March 21-25.
Usman Khawaja said he always wanted to play for Australia despite his roots in Pakistan while his parents still support the country of their birth.
“My heart was always to play for Australia because I have lived my whole life there. It was my good luck that I got a chance to play for Australia in 2011,” the southpaw said.
“My parents support Pakistan and I support Australia but I follow the Pakistani culture and speak Urdu with my mother at home.”
He also is looking forward to receiving a warm welcome from the Pakistani fans.
“I don’t expect a hostile crowd because people in Pakistan love their cricket and appreciate good cricket,” said Khawaja, who will be missing his parents as they cannot make the trip.
“My father (Tariq) definitely loves cricket and has been watching it his whole life. He is very excited that I get to play in Pakistan,” the left-hander said.
“Both my father and mother wanted to come and watch me, particularly in Rawalpindi where we lived, but circumstances mean that they are not coming out.
“I hope they can watch from the comfort of their living room.”