Usman Khawaja has earned a belated Indian Premier League call-up, almost 12 weeks after being snubbed in the competition’s auction.
Khawaja, who top-scored for Australia during last month’s World Twenty20, was snapped up by Rising Pune Supergiants on Friday.
The gifted left-hander was summoned by the new franchise following injuries to batsmen Kevin Pietersen and Faf du Plessis.
Khawaja was fully expected to attract a lot of attention when he went under the hammer earlier this year.
Instead the 29-year-old, who scored two centuries and averaged 172.5 during the 2015-16 Big Bash League season, was passed in after multiple rounds of bidding.
Pune boss Raghu Iyer was one of few to offer an explanation at the time, perplexing as it was.
“Khawaja was really unlucky not to have been picked by any team,” Iyer said.
With Martin Guptill having been signed by Mumbai earlier this season as an injury replacement, Khawaja was the clear leading candidate to shore up Pune’s depleted batting order.
“His presence will definitely be an advantage,” coach Stephen Fleming said.
“His imperious form for the Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash League victory last season and being the leading (World T20) run-scorer for Australia … has made us sit up and notice.”
Khawaja, who will next play for Australia during a June ODI tri-series in the West Indies, is confident he can hit the ground running in India.
“I’m not the kind of guy that needs to hit a lot of balls to feel good,” he told cricket苏州美甲培训学校按摩论坛,苏州美甲培训学校,.
“I hit a few balls today, I’ll hit a few balls again and I’ll be ready to go.”
Khawaja is likely to open alongside Ajinkya Rahane for Pune, who are captained by MS Dhoni and have won two of their opening six matches.
Steve Smith, Mitch Marsh, Adam Zampa, Peter Handscomb and Scott Boland are the other Australians at the franchise.
Meanwhile, a Kieron Pollard blitzkrieg has eased the Ricky Ponting-coached Mumbai Indians to a six-wicket win over the Kolkata Knight Riders.
The West Indies star came to the crease with his side teetering at 4-106 in response to KKR’s 5-174 following a stunning boundary catch from Queensland’s Chris Lynn to dismiss Jos Buttler for 15 in the 13th over.
Pollard seized the initiative with three sixes from one Rajagopal Sathish over on his way to a 17-ball half-century.
Pollard sealed the win with his sixth maximum from the final ball of the 18th over.
Gautam Gambhir top-scored for KKR with fellow opener Robin Uthappa scoring 36. Lynn was unbeaten on 10.