Cricket: Steve O’Keefe takes six wickets for Australia on Day 2 against India.
AUSTRALIA took control of the first Test in Pune on a day of high drama and action.
The tourists have set up a 298 run lead that has stunned cricket commentators.
On a rollercoaster day of cricket, Steve O’Keefe’s spin-bowling butchery left India with a huge hole to climb out of and cemented his name in the annals of Test cricket with a number of incredible records.
Here are all the big talking points heading into the third day of play on Saturday afternoon (AEDT).
O’KEEFE SHUTS UP SHANE WARNE
STEVE O’Keefe had the figures of 0/30 from nine overs.
What came next was unbelievable.
The left arm spinner claimed 4/5 in 25 balls of carnage that may have turned the entire series on its head.
He left India in disarray as Australia’s attack wiped out India for 105 in just 40.1 overs.
Just minutes before O’Keefe struck with his first wicket, Aussie spin king Shane Warne had criticised O’Keefe as an ineffective spin-bowler and the “weakest” bowler in the Australian attack.
“When you first start a session you want to set the tone and put pressure on the Indian batsmen and, without trying to be too harsh on Steve O’Keefe, this is the weakest of the Australian bowlers,” Warne told Star Sports.
“You can understand Steve Smith trying to give him confidence, but there is a time and a place for Steve O’Keefe to get his confidence, right now is the time for Australia to ram home the advantage with Nathan Lyon I believe at that end.
“I think Steve O’Keefe might get a wicket and that would be great, but I think Nathan Lyon is a better chance of taking a wicket.
“Because there is two right-handers in there, Steve Smith wants to take the ball away from the right-hander, but the ball is just as dangerous coming in on this surface.”
On day one Warne also publicly questioned O’Keefe’s selection, asking why selectors didn’t pick Mitchell Swepson or Ashton Agar ahead of O’Keefe.
“O’Keefe is the safe option because you know he’s not going to bowl much rubbish,” Warne said.
“You don’t see him as a huge danger with big-turning deliveries. He bowls tight.
“In these conditions, guys like Swepson and Agar could have been more of a danger option.”
O’Keefe gave him the perfect response — 25 balls that every bowler dreams of: W 1 W . W . . . . . . . 1 W 1 . . . W 1 . . 1 W.
SLY INDIAN STRATEGY BACKFIRES
AUSTRALIA’S first Test against India is the first Test ever played in Pune, and it might be the last.
The heavily criticised pitch for the highly-anticipated series opener has been slammed every day this week, but it might just be the beginning of the outcry.
While originally described as a “day eight” pitch on day one that would almost certainly allow India’s spinners to wreak havoc against Australia, the strategy has backfired.
A Star Sports commentator said the Pune pitch is such a dust bowl that it takes India’s natural spin advantage out of the equation because it allows the Aussie spinners to be just as lethal as India’s tweakers.
“We mentioned the things that have gone wrong for India in the past couple of days, the main one is, I cannot imagine what the coach and captain Virat Kohli must have thought when they turned up and saw this pitch as dry as it is,” the commentator said in the third session of play on day two.
“They’ve played magnificently this summer on good pitches, good natural pitches that wear out naturally after five days. They have good spin bowlers who, generally speaking, out-bowl the opposition, and they have batsmen who score huge quantities of runs. Yet, with a pitch like this, the playing field has been levelled, they’ve almost lost the home advantage because the opposition can bowl you out just as easy as you can them.
“That’s the main thing that’s gone wrong and everything else has followed on from that.”
STUNNING RECORDS SET IN O’KEEFE SPREE
— TOI Sports (@toisports) February 24, 2017
STEVE O’Keefe’s bowling heroics will go down as the ninth greatest performance by a foreign bowler in an Indian Test, but it doesn’t tell the entire story.
O’Keefe shattered his previous best Test figures — 3/53.
When he dismissed Ravi Jadeja for his fifth wicket, he had snared his five-for in the space of 19 balls — the equal second quickest fistful in Test cricket.
Stuart Broad’s five-for at Trent Bridge against Australia in 2015 is the quickest Test cricket has seen — from just 17 balls.
India’s collapse of 7/11 after previously looking sure at 3/94 is the worst seven-wicket collapse India has ever had — and it happened in the space of just 48 deliveries.
The home team’s score of just 105 is the second lowest total India has ever scored in a Test innings on home soil against Australia.
SECRET SPRAY BEHIND O’KEEFE TRANSFORMATION
STEVE O’Keefe has revealed Australian coach Darren Lehmann let him have it at lunch on day two, triggering one of the most dramatic individual turnarounds on a day of Test cricket.
O’Keefe bowled two overs at the start of the second session before being moved to bowl from the other end, in a piece of captaincy that will be remembered as a moment of pure genius.
However, before Smith’s switcheroo, Lehmann fired both barrels at O’Keefe for failing to his the right spots in the first session of play.
O’Keefe says it helped trigger his heroic display.
“It wasn’t the most impressive start,” he told Star Sports.
“My first six overs were pretty ordinary actually, but, I think from that end the wicket probably spun a bit more consistently.
“I came in for the break at lunch and Boof sort of gave me a bump on the head in regards to what I had been bowling and it was probably the message I needed to hear.
“I was probably a bit nervous and I went to what I knew, which is what I bowl in Australia, whereas I think the conditions over here sort of dictate a little bit different. It’s only a subtle change, it probably can’t be picked up, but for me it made the world of difference.”
RENSHAW LOCKED OUT IN NEW NIGHTMARE
MATT Renshaw was prohibited from opening the batting for Australia in the second innings after he was caught out by the sudden end to India’s disastrous first innings collapse.
Struggling with a stomach illness, Renshaw began day two resting off the field and he did not return with enough time to before India was skittled for 105 runs.
Renshaw was not able to but until after 12 minutes after promoted second drop Peter Handscomb had already been required to walk out to the middle following the early wickets of David Warner and Shaun Marsh.
Marsh was forced to open the batting in Renshaw’s absence. He contributed just 16 runs this Test match.
Renshaw was also spotted vomiting his guts up after he was struck on the elbow by a short ball from Umesh Yadav.
Renshaw vomited on the side of the pitch as Australian cricket team doctor Peter Brukner stood next to him.
Aussie great and selection panel member Mark Waugh said he had a simple solution to spare Renshaw for the rest of the series.
“I have the answer for Matt Renshaw,” Waugh told Fox Sports.
“It’s not quite on the ground, but just over the rope. It’s a port-a-loo. So you run off, go to the port-a-loo and then you run back on. Why not? You have a time limit of say four to five minutes. Why not?”
Somehow, it could still be worse for the 20-year-old rookie.