India is a class team, they're exceptional batters at home and it's going to be a big job: Steve O'Keefe
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Australia and Steve O’Keefe are hard at work for the upcoming Test series against India. The spinner is training under England’s 2012 spin hero Monty Panesar. The Australian discontinued his Big Bash League campaign with the Sidney Sixers mid-way in order to prepare for this all important Border-Gavaskar series.
The left-arm spinner was all ears to the advice that was thrown his way. The likes of Daniel Vettori and Rangana Herath have shared their valuable experience with O’Keefe and co. He believes trying to get past the defense of Indian batsmen will hold the key. “I’ve spoken to Gaz [Lyon] who has played here before and he has spoken to Daniel Vettori. I was able to briefly chat with Rangana Herath in Sri Lanka.
“The main things you get from those guys is challenging the batter’s defense, and if you can continually put the ball in the right area, given these conditions will spin more than what we’re used to at home, that will help us. It’s about building pressure and not being overawed. They’re a class team, they’re exceptional batters at home and it’s going to be a big job,” the 32-year-old was quoted by ESPNCricinfo as saying.
Steve and his spin partner Ashton Agar both have visited India previously. They toured India back in 2015 with Australia A and bowled to the likes of Virat Kohli, Pujara, and even KL Rahul. The A side even won a game, so the SG ball and Indian conditions aren’t as foreign to them.
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“Both Ashton and I played over there and were both able to create chances and build pressure. I’ll be drawing on that but I also know it’s going to be quite hard. It’s another step up and when these guys are playing for their country they go up another level as well, so we’re going to have to match them, if not try and get on top of them if we’re going to win,” O’Keefe stated.
Panesar, on the other hand, has worked equally hard to help Australian spinners understand Indian conditions. “Monty has had a lot of success in India and it was great to work with him,” O’Keefe said. “The keys he talked about was being adaptable.”
Wickets in India are rarely similar. They change from venue to venue, if one bounces the other one will spin and keep low and the Aussies are aware of it. “You’re going to get different wickets, albeit they will be generally slow and spinning, but at times they can play a bit differently, might be a little bit quicker, one might bounce a bit more,” O’Keefe said.
He also stressed on the importance of adapting quickly to the conditions and how the English spinner helped him for the same. The left-arm spinner said, “He (Panesar) talked about being able to adapt really quickly and on the spot and also being able to take away the batter’s scoring options in regards to boundaries… building pressure through being a little bit defensive, which was something that was, I guess, refreshing to hear.”
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