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17 Apr 2021
Usman Khawaja, the Australian middle-order batsman will finally get a chance to play in Pakistan, the country of his birth. The southpaw who has been in and around the Australian circuit for quite some now will be part of the Islamabad United franchise in the remainder of PSL that is slated to resume in June.
Khawaja who was born in Islamabad is excited to be part of a club that represents the city of his birth. Meanwhile, he will also be joined by other Australian teammates Callum Ferguson, Joe Burns and James Faulkner. All these three players will ply their trade for the Lahore Qalandars.
The 6th edition of the tournament was halted in March after several breaches in the bio-bubble protocols. Many players started testing positive for the virus and the organisers had no other option to postpone the tournament after 14 matches. As per the new schedule, the remaining 20 matches will be played at the National Stadium in Karachi in June.
The news comes after three Australian players including Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa and Andrew Tye opted out of the remainder of the IPL. The second wave of Covid-19 has created a ruckus in India and the tension has ignited among the franchises as well. Earlier Ravichandran Ashwin and Liam Livingstone also pulled out of the tournament midway.
It will be a big opportunity for Khawaja to play for Islamabad, the city of his birth. The southpaw had emigrated to Australia with his family at the age of five. The PSL schedule generally clashes with the Australian domestic calendar so Khawaja didn’t get a chance to play in the tournament before.
"As long as I'm playing domestic cricket in Australia I won't get the opportunity to play in the PSL," Khawaja told cricket.com.au earlier this month.
"This might be a little blessing in disguise to play over there. I'd love to go over there and play." Khawaja added.
"I've played in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh but I've never played in Pakistan where I was born and it's something I would love to do, to go home to where it all began for myself, my family," he told the media wing of CA.
"I love cricket returning to that region, too, because I think they're doing some really, really good stuff over there, doing some really hard work to get people to come over there and play."
Khawaja has earlier played in the Indian Premier League. He was part of the Rising Pune Supergiant in 2016 and played six games for the franchise. He had to warm the benches for the whole 2017 season and has not been part of the tournament since. Khawaja feels that at the end of the day many people don’t like talking about the money but it is what it is.
"Personally, if the PSL had as much money as the IPL there's no doubt all the international players would be going there," Khawaja was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au.
"At the end of the day, people don't want to talk about it but it's all about cash. Cash is king. It's the reason, when at times there have been some red flags travelling to the subcontinent people have always pushed the barriers, the boundaries a little bit because everyone has a price," Khawaja spoke about the understated motivation behind playing the franchise leagues.
"That's just the nature of the beast but the way the Pakistanis, what they're doing with security – I think England is going over there and I'd love to see an Australian team tour to Pakistan in the not too distant future," he opined on the possibility of a national tour to Pakistan.
"Hopefully in the next couple of years would be ideal but I guess it needs a bit of buy in from the players too," Khawaja concluded.