Usman Khawaja: ‘We had the game in the palm of our hand’ Aussie star rues Delhi debacle

When Australia started the fateful day 3 at the Kotla ground in Delhi, they seemingly held the advantage. They were sitting on a 62-run lead with nine wickets intact and had led an assault on day 2 evening, with Travis Head going after Ravindra Jadeja. The Indian captain Rohit Sharma felt the necessity to hold a team huddle in the morning to tell his spinners not to “panic” and “not change fields” in a hurry.

But Australia panicked with over-the-top aggression, throwing their bat around to collapse in a heap. Nine wickets fell for 52 in the day 3 morning, shocking the cricketing world.

Their opener Usman Khawaja admitted they blew it away.

“Today we had the game in the palm of our hand,” Khawaja told ABC Sport. “Things can happen really quickly in the subcontinent, and we know that, and they did unfortunately. We couldn’t string a partnership together.”

He said he had a “good feeling” before start of play that Australia could win the game. “This morning everything felt really good,” he said. “I had a really good feeling about us getting some runs on the board and trying to win this Test match, but you can never get too far ahead of yourself in sport.”

All they needed to set was a 180-run target and Khawaja reckons Australia could have won.

“I felt after yesterday (day 2), we had all the momentum,” he said. “If we could get somewhere around 180-plus [runs ahead] I thought it was almost game over. That’s a pretty tough wicket out there but we just couldn’t do it.”

There has been much handwringing in the Australian cricket world with former players and their media believing the Delhi harakiri could severely dent the team’s confidence for the next two Tests.

Khawaja doesn’t agree. “”We probably could have won this Test match but we didn’t,” he said.”I’m sure it will drive the boys more than anything.”

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