Sidelined Khawaja to box on in Melbourne
USMAN Khawaja is aiming to be fit for the Boxing Day Test, after sustaining a hamstring injury in the second Test against New Zealand in Perth.
That means the new Australian No.3's involvement in the three-match series against the Black Caps is now over, as he looks to return in time to face the West Indies.
The Queensland skipper had been enjoying a dream start to the international season, scoring two centuries against the Kiwis in the opening two Tests.
After posting a taxing 121 in the searing Perth heat, Khawaja pulled up lame while chasing the ball in the outfield on Saturday.
Yesterday morning he underwent scans that, according to Australian physiotherapist David Beakley, "indicated a moderate hamstring muscle strain, which means it is likely he will be unavailable for the next two Test matches in Adelaide and Hobart".
Western Australian trio Cameron Bancroft, Shaun Marsh and Michael Klinger are all in the mix to replace the 28-year-old stroke-maker. Highly-rated New South Welshman Nic Maddinson could also find himself in the conversation.
Those men will not have to wait long to find out their fate, with the third Test squad likely to be named tomorrow.
Marsh, 32, was named in Australia's squad for the abandoned tour of Bangladesh, so is clearly still in the thoughts of the national selectors.
He scored hundreds against South Australia and the Cricket Australia XI in the Matador Cup, and 92 against the Redbacks in the Sheffield Shield last round.
Bancroft - seen as a player with a great future at just 22 - also scored 111 against the Redbacks in the Shield last round.
His concentration for someone so young is held in high regard by national selectors, particularly after a 13-hour innings saw him make 211 against New South Wales last season.
"He's ready (for Test cricket), there's no doubt about that from what I've seen over the last couple of years," Australian Test player and Warriors teammate Adam Voges said recently.
"Cameron's biggest strength is his concentration. You see a lot of talented youngsters coming through who can play all the shots but can't bat for long periods of time. Cameron's almost the opposite of that."
And veteran Klinger has been a run-machine over the past 12 months.
He has scored a staggering 14 centuries in that period with Western Australia, the Perth Scorchers and Gloucestershire.
The experienced 35-year-old was the second-highest run-scorer in the Sheffield Shield last season, with 1046 in total.