3 Jan 2011

Aussie debutant Khawaja lights up Sydney gloom

8:36 pm on 3 January 2011

Usman Khawaja lit up an overcast first day as a determined but ultimately gloomy display from Australia saw England end with the upper hand in the fifth Ashes Test in Sydney.

Given a useful start by Shane Watson and Phil Hughes, Khawaja, who's 24, came in straight after a lunch break precipitated by the fall of opener Hughes, who made 31 before being caught at slip from a loose shot, as was Watson, who made 45.

Khawaja, the Pakistan-born lefthander and the first Muslim to play for Australia, made 37 and demonstrated the technique and touch less of a debutant than of an accomplished international batsman.

But the loss of stand-in captain Michael Clarke for yet another slim score turned things towards England, and Khawaja's exit slid Australia to 134 for four from 59 overs when the rain finally set in.

Much now rests on Mike Hussey, who's 12 not out, to scramble a reasonable total on a pitch that will improve before it deteriorates.

While England have already secured the Ashes, Australia could square the series with victory.