New Zealand vs Australia: Usman Khawaja Removes Sticker From Bat, Last-Minute Act Reignites ICC Debate

Australia opening batter Usman Khawaja was forced to remove a dove logo from his bat on Day 3 of the ongoing 1st Test against New Zealand at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. The incident happened in the 19th over of Australia’s second innings when Khawaja had signalled for a new bat, having cracked one in the middle. The 12th man, Matthew Renshaw, rushed over from the dugout with a few options. After testing out the bats, Khawaja decided to pick one. However, he had to remove the banned dove logo from it.

This comes after the ICC rejected Khawaja’s request to display the dove and olive branch logo on his bat during the Boxing Day Test against Pakistan last year. The 37-year-old wanted to sport the sticker to raise awareness for the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

The veteran batter had also planned to sport a special message on his shoes in the first Test in Perth, but was warned from doing so by the ICC.

However, Khawaja did sport a black armband during the game, but the ICC charged him for breaching equipment regulations. The Pakistan-born batter later clarified that it was due to a “personal bereavement”.

Khawaja did find support from Cricket Australia chief Nick Hockley and captain Pat Cummins, who said that the opener’s attempt to bring to the fore the humanitarian crisis in Gaza was “not offensive”.

Cummins had suggested that he finds no difference between Khawaja displaying a dove logo on his shoe and bat to raise awareness of humanitarian issues and teammate Marnus Labuschagne displaying an eagle on his bat which signifies a personal religious message.

“We really support Uzzy. He’s standing up for what he believes and I think he’s done it really respectfully,” Cummins had said ahead of the Boxing Day Test.

Meanwhile, Khawaja was dismissed for 28 by Glenn Phillips in the morning session on Day 3.

Australia were dismissed for 164 in their second innings, leaving New Zealand to chase a victory target of 369.

Part-time spinner Phillips took career-best figures of 5-45 while nightwatchman Nathan Lyon was Australia’s top-scorer with 41.

(With AFP Inputs)

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