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India buried in their own dustbowl as O'Keefe shines

Steve Smith is leading a team of bullies. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
Expert
25th February, 2017
15

There were talks of India winning the Border–Gavaskar Trophy 4-0 in India, triumphing in the first Test in Pune by a huge margin.

But what a transformation as Australia thrashed India by 333 runs in three days. Left-arm spinner Steven ‘SOKO’ O’Keefe was the chief destroyer with identical figures of 6-35 and 6-35 in each innings. Off-spinner Nathan Lyon and left-arm fast bowler Mitchell Starc (with bat and ball) were just as effective in breaking India’s invincibility at home.

All the wash-up from India vs Australia
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» Six talking points from the Test
» The Liebke ratings
» Australia embarrass India technically and mentally
» Australia must not repeat 2001 nightmare

Not to forget skipper Steve Smith’s century in the second innings on a dusty bouncy turning track against quality spin bowling. He was lucky to be dropped four times but hung on regardless. His 109 in the second innings outscored India’s totals of 105 and 107.

There is a proverb in an Indian language which when translated in English means, “One who digs a hole in the ground for enemies, falls in it himself.”

That is precisely what happened when India prepared a turning pitch to help their spinners but their batsmen fell to the Aussie tweakers.

The shoe was on the other foot as the India’s master batsmen lost their footwork – and their nerves.

India’s worst capitulation in Test history came on day two in their first innings. They were 3-94 but lost seven wickets for 11 runs to be out for 105.

Starc started the Indian slide by dismissing their top batsmen Cheteshwar Pujara for six and skipper Virat Kohli for a duck in the first innings.

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Man of the match O’Keefe appeared batsman friendly when he started to bowl but once Smith changed ends for him he looked lethal as he took 6 for 5 in 4.1 overs. He carried on his devastating spell in the second innings to capture a 6-fer again.

His match figures of 12 for 70 are the best for an Australian bowler in India.

A happy skipper Steve Smith said at the presentation, “O’Keefe was outstanding. We’ve got some good players of spin and good spinners. It’s been 4502 days since Australia won a Test in India, I know it to the day!”

“A massive lead in, this wicket. When he [O’Keefe] pulled his length back slightly, it felt he’d get a wicket every ball. You need to have some luck on a wicket like that. It took a lot of grit and determination,” Smith said.

Now to Bangalore for the second Test starting next Saturday on fourth of March. It’s game on with the tourists on top.

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