Khawaja piles pressure on Warner in battle for World Cup opening slot

Southampton: Usman Khawaja has staked his claim to open in the Cricket World Cup ahead of David Warner as Australia wrapped up their preparations with a five-wicket win over Sri Lanka.

Engaged in a battle with Warner to partner Aaron Finch against Afghanistan on Saturday, Khawaja hit 89 from 105 balls at Southampton on Monday.

He fell stumped just before Australia finished chasing 8-239 inside 45 overs – the defending champions' third straight victory since arriving on English soil.

With Warner rested from Monday's match with upper leg soreness, Khawaja took his chance at the top of the order.


He hit just three boundaries in his knock, but was solid all around the ground.

The knock came just hours after he limped from the field with an apparent injury, struck on his problematic left knee by a ball he attempted to field at mid-off.

Khawaja averages 96.8 as an opener in one-day cricket compared with 38.96 at No.3.

He starred in the recent away series against India and Pakistan, giving selectors a headache on Warner's return from his 12-month ban.

Warner meanwhile hasn't passed 50 in his four warm-up games back in Australian colours, but was the leading run-scorer in this year's Indian Premier League.

Of Australia's six warm-up matches, Khawaja has opened four times and Warner three.

Both have also spent time at No.3, where Shaun Marsh appears in danger of missing selection.

The West Australian combined for an 80-run stand with Khawaja on Monday, but was caught at long on trying to take Dhananjaya Silva down the ground on 34.



Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis also perished in the deep for 36 and 32 respectively before Alex Carey (18 no) and Pat Cummins (9 no) finished the job.

Australia had earlier split their wickets, with Adam Zampa (2-39) the pick of the bowlers.

Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Starc, Cummins and Kane Richardson also each claimed one – albeit with the latter being the most expensive as he fights for a role as the team's third quick.