Usman Khawaja returned to haunt England with a stylish century Thursday – four years after plundering another big Ashes hundred at the same ground – as Australia took a firm grip of the fourth Test in Sydney.

The Pakistan-born Khawaja, playing his first Test since the 2019 Ashes series in England in place of Covid-isolated Travis Head, was at his unflappable best in compiling 137 off 260 balls to put Australia in charge after a declaration at 416 for eight.

Nathan Lyon smoked Stuart Broad for six over mid-wicket to prompt captain Pat Cummins to end the innings and give Australia’s pace attack five overs at the weary Englishmen, who had toiled for 134 overs in the field.

Mitchell Starc was 34 not out at the declaration, then England just about survived unscathed to the close at 13 without loss, with Haseeb Hameed and Zak Crawley both on two.

But Crawley enjoyed a massive reprieve before he had scored when he was caught by David Warner at slip, only for Starc to be no-balled for over-stepping.

England are now playing only for their Ashes pride after going down by an innings and 14 runs inside three days in the third Test at Melbourne to give Australia a 3-0 lead with two Tests to complete.

‘Special hundred’

Khawaja, dropped by England captain Joe Root on 28, made the most of his recall and was finally dismissed late in the day, giving Broad his fifth wicket.

Khawaja looked set to be there at the end but an inside edge off Broad cannoned on to his stumps to end his mighty knock. He left the field to a rousing reception.

“It’s special scoring my first Test hundred as a father. I was trying to look for my wife and daughter in the stands,” Khawaja said.

“I am really blessed. I am humbled. Every time I play for Australia is special. The only thing to make it better will be to get a victory, and that’s the next thing to go for.”

His ninth Test century came four years after his 171 against England at the same Sydney Cricket Ground, but it may not be enough to keep his spot for the final Hobart Test later this month with Brisbane centurion Head expected to be available for selection.

The elegant 35-year-old left-hander looked in the groove and was patient with his shot selection to deny the tourists after Broad had made a double breakthrough after lunch.

Khawaja, who brought up his century in the over before tea, had a let-off on 28 before lunch when Root fumbled a good chance at slip off Jack Leach and then made the tourists pay dearly.

Khawaja’s patient knock stabilised the Australian first innings after Broad had dismissed Steve Smith for 67 and Cameron Green five in a double breakthrough.

Broad makes a point

Broad, following up on his 13th Test dismissal of ‘bunny’ Warner on the opening day, got Smith for the ninth time in the Ashes.

Smith was annoyed as he looked in good nick to score a 28th Test century, 12th in the Ashes and fourth at the SCG.

During his knock Smith became Australia’s seventh-highest Test run-scorer, passing current team coach Justin Langer’s 7,696 runs. He now has scored 7,734 runs at 60.89.

Broad, who has not played as much as he would have liked at these Ashes, finished the day with 5-101 off 29 overs.

“I was disappointed to miss out at Brisbane and Melbourne on pitches that any wobble-seam bowler would have been pretty excited about,” said the recalled Broad.

“But when you do miss out your mentality has to be about get yourself ready for the next opportunity, and I really feel like I did that.”

In another blow for England, Ben Stokes pulled up bowling his 14th over, clutching his left side and immediately left the field for treatment. He later returned to the field but was unable to bowl.