Usman Khawaja takes a tumble and is run out from a Moises Henriques throw. Photo: Colleen Petch
Australian Test hopeful Usman Khawaja is adamant he was robbed of a chance to post a century after he was controversially run out in Queensland's Ryobi Cup win over New South Wales at Manuka Oval on Sunday.
Unbeaten on 85 and in complete control against his former state, the Bulls recruit was caught short of his ground attempting a quick single after colliding mid-pitch with Blues quick Josh Lalor.
Khawaja sought out NSW skipper Stephen O'Keefe for his opinion on whether he had been unfairly impeded. O'Keefe told his former teammate the decision would stand, and Khawaja believes it could be payback for an incident between the two sides last year.
Usman Khawaja is run out from a Moises Henriques throw. Photo: Colleen Petch
In a Ryobi Cup clash at the Gabba last summer, Blues batsman Ben Rohrer was run out despite colliding with Bulls bowler Ben Cutting.
Khawaja was a Blues player last year before heading north this summer in a bid to rediscover his form.
''I was waiting for the captain [O'Keefe] to come over, but the captain, I think, had a bit of a grudge from last year with something that happened in Queensland, so he told me to go,'' Khawaja said.
Usman Khawaja walks from the ground after being run out. Photo: Colleen Petch
''He just told me to ask Ben Cutting, so you'll have to ask him.
''It's not winning any spirit-of-cricket awards, but move on, we won, that's all I care about. I was disappointed not to get a hundred, but I'm really happy we won.''
Cutting remembered last summer's Rohrer run out when asked after Sunday's game, but believed it was less controversial than the Khawaja incident.
''A similar thing happened last year when we played the Blues at the Gabba, but I like to think that was a little bit different to what happened today,'' he said.
''I was just running to the stumps, and Benny Rohrer dived into the back of me.
''He probably could have gone left or right but he didn't see me there, whereas today they probably saw each other but it was a sneaky little move which tripped 'Ussy' up.''
Khawaja added further weight to his claims of snaring retiring champion Ricky Ponting's place in Australia's line-up for the Sri Lanka Test series.
Aside from being dropped by Steve Smith when on just six, Khawaja's strokeplay looked effortless. His 102-ball knock included 10 boundaries. The 25-year-old has blasted 253 runs in his past four Ryobi Cup innings at an average of 63.25.
He will have a prime opportunity to further press his claims when he captains a Chairman's XI against Sri Lanka in a three-day match at Manuka Oval, beginning on Thursday.
Another big knock could put him in the box seat to add to his six Tests.
''I've been in this situation before and you can either make a meal of things, or just go out and play,''Khawaja said.
''Talking to [Bulls coach] Darren [Lehmann] and being up there with the boys has given me a different outlook on life, and I'm playing with a bit more freedom. I'm pretty confident the [Australian] selectors already know who they're going to pick anyway, so there's not too much pressure on me.''