Australia's Usman Khawaja savours 'special' Pakistan series
Australia top-order batter Usman Khawaja says there will be no room for sentiment when the first ball is bowled in the opening Test against Pakistan this week, though he acknowledges it will be "very special" to play in the country of his birth.
Born in Islamabad, Khawaja was four-years-old when his parents moved to Sydney.
The 35-year-old is part of the Australia team on their first tour of Pakistan in 24 years.
"The fact that I'm playing in Pakistan is special, don't get me wrong, it's very special," the left-hander told a virtual news conference.
"It's something I've always wanted to do. I grew up down the road.
"There is that bit of sentiment definitely, but once the game starts you don't really think about that stuff."
Khawaja earned his place on the tour after his twin hundreds in Sydney against England in what was his first Test in more than two years.
"I've played for such a long time now. I've been out of the team, I'm back in the team, every game for me now for Australia is just a bonus," he said.
Khawaja, whose hundreds in Sydney came at number five, is set to open Australia's innings with fellow left-hander David Warner.
While he expects to receive a warm welcome in Rawalpindi, Karachi and Lahore, Khawaja also thought Pakistan fans would show their appreciation for the quality cricket of the visitors.
"I've got a lot of support here in Pakistan always.
"I think they'll support me, they'll hope I get runs, but they’ll be hoping Australia get smashed at the same time," he said with a smile.
"It's going to be one of those Catch-22s.
"But I don’t expect a hostile crowd. Pakistanis love their cricket, and they appreciate good cricket, and I think that’s what they’d be hoping for."
The first Test begins on Friday in Rawalpindi.