Ashes 2023: Usman Khawaja was very much like Steve Smith when he got into that zone, says Kumar Sangakkara

By India Today Sports Desk: Kumar Sangakkara heaped praise on Usman Khawaja after his stellar knock of 141 against England at Edgbaston in the first Ashes 2023 Test on Sunday, comparing the opener to Steve Smith.

Khawaja was in a league of his own compared to the other Australian batters at Edgbaston as he scored his first hundred in England. It was a moment of redemption for the opener as he was dropped from the side that toured for the Ashes in 2019.

However, Khawaja was able to silence his critics and score a magnificent hundred that got Australia to 386 on Sunday, seven short of England's score of 393 in the first innings. Speaking to Sky Sports, Sangakkara praised the 36-year-old's concentration during the knock and said he was very much like his teammate and star batter Smith once he got into the zone at Edgabaston.

The former Sri Lankan skipper was also impressed with the patience shown by Khawaja during the innings and the way he took the attack to Moeen Ali. Sangakkae also praised Khawaja's defence against pace and spin and also claimed the opener would be an important batter for Australia in the series.

"He was very much like Steve Smith when he got into that zone - the inner concentration where he set up for a big one.

"I was impressed with his patience and how he played Moeen, taking the attack to the off-spinner.

"His defence was impressive against pace and spin and he will be another important batter for Australia," said Sangakkara.

Khawaja had opened up about his emotional celebration after scoring his hundred and said that it was a culmination of the three tours to England and the fact he was dropped for two of them.

"I think it was a culmination of three Ashes tours to England and being dropped on two of them," Khawaja said in the post-match press conference on Day 2.

"I don't read the media, but when I’m getting sprayed in the nets and getting sprayed when I'm walking out there that I can't bat in England, I guess it was just a bit more emotional than normal.

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