Justin Langer has ‘huge admiration’ for evolving Test hero Usman Khawaja
Usman Khawaja's eight-hour, 44-minute 141 helped Australia escape defeat to Pakistan. @Getty

Australia’s head coach Justin Langer has heaped praise on Usman Khawaja, Man of the Match for innings of 85 and 141 in an epic draw with Pakistan in Dubai, while stating that the batsman’s poor record in Asia never sat heavy on his views of whether he could succeed in the UAE.

Set a target of 462, or more likelier an approximate of 137 overs to survive, Australia were carried heroically by Khawaja’s second-innings hundred as he batted almost through the entire fourth innings on a wearing Dubai surface. The left-hand batsman’s stunning rearguard came after Australia had lost three wickets for no runs on the fourth evening, and helped the visitors bat the longest they have ever had to in the fourth innings of a Test in Asia.

Before the Dubai Test, Khawaja had a top score of 26 in nine Test innings in Asia and an average of 14.

“I’ve got so much admiration for Uzzie,” Langer said after the draw. “He’s got himself really, really fit to bat in these conditions and to do what he’s done is a great credit to him but then to also overcome the demons. People have talked about whether he can play spin bowling. I never had a single doubt that Usman Khawaja could play spin bowling. And it’s great to see him getting the benefits of the Australian A tour and then the work he’s put into it to get rewarded for all the work he’s put in is massive for him.”

Khawaja had spoken of how his perceived weakness against spin in Asia was just that – a perception – and that he was determined to prove critics wrong. He did precisely that in the Dubai Test, with his 175-ball 85 helping the debutant Aaron Finch add 142 in the first innings and his eight-hour, 44-minute 141 helping Australia escape defeat to Pakistan.

“No doubt, he’s done some great things in Test cricket but when you have an innings like he’s just had then and a game actually – not just that innings – but the first innings was brilliant as well,” said Langer. “You never underestimate again how that can take you to even a further level in your career. I’ve got huge – always have had as a player – huge admiration for what he’s done over the last six months.”