IND vs AUS, 1st Test, Day 2: Player of the day – Steve O'Keefe

IND vs AUS, 1st Test, Day 2: Player of the day – Steve O’Keefe

Steve O'Keefe
Steve O’Keefe. (Photo Source: BCCI)

The second day of the first Test between India and Australia witnessed a massive collapse in the Indian batting order. Having dismissed the visitors for 260 early in the day, they lost the first three wickets in reply before Lunch but got to some sort of stability at 94/3 when KL Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane added 50 runs for the 4th wicket. But with Rahul’s departure, the home side lost 7 wickets for just 11 runs and was bundled out for 105.

Although the three premier bowlers for Australia were deemed to be Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, and Nathan Lyon, it was their least likely left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe who turned out to be the major weapon. He picked 6 wickets for 35 runs in 13.1 overs which became his best figures in Test cricket and it was also the first time he got a fifer in this format.

He was wicketless in his first spell before lunch but when he was introduced to the attack post the lunch interval, he removed the dangerous looking Rahul for 64 as he mistimed a lofted shot and was caught by David Warner in the deep. The wicket then opened the floodgates and the batsmen just followed one after the other back to the dressing room.

Two balls later, he produced a jaffa to get Rahane out caught in the gully where Peter Handscomb took an outstanding catch. In the same over, he bagged his third wicket in the form of Wriddhiman Saha. The batsman poked awkwardly at a delivery outside off and the ball hit the pads of the wicketkeeper Matthew Wade and lobbed up to Steven Smith at first slip.

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Jayant Yadav was his next victim who was lunging forward to a delivery that did not turn too much and beat the outside edge of his bat. The stride was too long and Wade took off the bails that found Yadav short of his crease. In the next over, Ravindra Jadeja skied one to long-on where Mitchell Starc held on to an easy catch.

Fittingly, he picked up the last wicket as well when Umesh Yadav tried to loft him over the infield but only managed to get an outside edge that went to the skipper Smith again for a comfortable grab. It was an incredible spell of spin bowling and he might feel that it’s all too easy bowling to Indian batsmen on turning tracks.

The thing that he did best was that he trusted the pitch and did not try too many variations. Before lunch, he was bowling a bit short of length and despite the turn, the batsmen were able to tackle him easily. But post that he started bowling fuller and up to the batsmen that made it difficult for them to handle the sharp spin.

It’s absolutely evident that Indian batsmen were complacent against him and the fact is proven by the kind of lose strokes they played. The spell by O’Keefe has put the Australian team firmly into a commanding position at the end of day 2 and could well turn out to the decisive one in the outcome of the match.