Usman Khawaja has made the most of his recall and reprieve, posting an unbeaten century to lift Australia to 6-321 at tea on day two of the fourth Ashes Test.
Khawaja, playing his first Test since being axed during the 2019 Ashes, is 102 not out after helping his side seize control at the SCG.
The veteran offered a chance off the bowling of Jack Leach on 28, which Joe Root put down at first slip to continue a miserable series as England captain.
Khawaja never looked back, seeing off the second new ball as he kicked on after a 115-run stand with Steve Smith (67) was snapped by Stuart Broad.
The left-hander reached three figures in the final over before tea on Thursday, clipping a delivery from Leach.
Khawaja leapt with joy after running three, acknowledging his family in the crowd then hugging Pat Cummins.
Queensland’s captain had every reason to fear his international career was over, but Travis Head’s positive COVID-19 test delivered a chance to show he still belongs.
Khawaja took full advantage, while England’s woes went from bad to worse after Ben Stokes suffered a side injury while bowling.
Khawaja resumed on four on Thursday, having negotiated six-and-a-half overs alongside Smith after Australia slipped to 3-117 on a stop-start opening day.
A rising delivery in Jimmy Anderson’s first over of the day struck the 35-year-old on the glove, while he copped a nasty blow to the shoulder during a bouncer barrage from Stokes.
Khawaja, who made his Test debut at the same ground and against the same opposition in 2011, wasn’t flustered.
The tourists enjoyed a positive day one in Sydney, relative to three lopsided losses that handed Australia an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-Test series.
Australia’s depth, a hallmark of their Boxing Day Test triumph after Scott Boland’s man-of-the-match haul on debut, has rocked their hopes of restoring some pride.
However, showers forecast for the rest of the fourth Test have the potential to stall the hosts’ push for victory.
Wet weather meant only 46.5 overs of play was possible on Wednesday.
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