Australian media hails their ‘heroes’ after unexpected win against India in Pune | cricket | Hindustan Times
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Australian media hails their ‘heroes’ after unexpected win against India in Pune

Australian media praises captain Steve Smith and spinner Steve O’Keefe for their performances, finds fault in hosts after registering their first win in India after 13 years.

cricket Updated: Feb 26, 2017 15:00 IST
Australia spinner Steve O'Keefe’s (centre) match haul of 12/70 in the first Test against India in Pune was dubbed a ‘superhero performance’ by the media.
Australia spinner Steve O'Keefe’s (centre) match haul of 12/70 in the first Test against India in Pune was dubbed a ‘superhero performance’ by the media. (AP)

Australian press had a field day celebrating the unexpected win for the visitors who were dubbed underdogs coming into the series against India. Australia inflicted a 333-run defeat on India in Pune to snap their 19-match unbeaten run.

The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) described Steve O’Keefe’s match figures of 12/70 as a “superhero performance that rewrote the record books and humiliated the shellshocked hosts inside three days”.

Cricket.com.au, the official website of Cricket Australia, hailed the left-arm tweaker for entering the record books as the best ever foreign spinner in a Test match in India.

Read more | Virat Kohli’s men will ‘fight back hard’ against Australia: Sachin Tendulkar

The website also highlighted his sacrifices over the last few months — opting to skip the Big Bash League and abstaining from alcohol after being fined $10,000 in a drunken incident — to prepare for the India series as being key to his performance.

After the second day of the Test, India coach Anil Kumble had said O’Keefe’s achievement of six wickets in India’s first innings was down to him bowling steady in the right areas.

The Daily Telegraph Sydney, taking exception to the comments, asked what O’Keefe was capable of if he “bowls well”. Of course, this was before his similar second innings haul, after which was done, the news agency wrote that he had “shattered 84 years of Test history in the sub-continent”.

Multiple heroes

The Daily Telegraph also wrote that “Australia had many heroes” in the first Test. Captain Steve Smith’s 109 off 202 balls was described as inspirational and the most significant of his 18 Test centuries.

The Daily Telegraph defined Mitchell Starc’s first innings score of 61 it as “crucial” to Australia’s first innings total while SMH called him a “star” and a “big game player” in their analysis of individual Aussie performances.

Aside from his performance with the bat, Smith’s captaincy also received plenty of praise.

The Australian identified Smith’s annoyance at an overthrow towards the end of the match as a highlight of his winning mentality. The newspaper wrote that while it seemed imminent that the visitors were going to win, Smith wanted to give no quarter.

Read more | India vs Australia: How Steve Smith’s side made Sourav Ganguly eat his words

Cricket.com.au noted that “Smith is, by nature, a highly motivated, steely driven young man” and that he learnt his lessons from the 0-3 defeat in Sri Lanka last year to prepare a side that would dare to challenge the best.

Australia’s coaching staff also received a good word, primary praise going to former Indian all-rounder Sridharan Sriram who was contracted as a the team’s spin consultant beginning with the preparatory camps in Dubai. Sriram’s influence and advice to O’Keefe was hailed by SMH as the base for his match-winning spell.

Read more | Steve O’Keefe hails S Sriram, the Indian hand behind his Pune Test haul

Indians at fault

The Australian press also found fault in the Indian side. SMH described India’s second innings as “pathetic” and faulted the home side’s lack of resistance. Kohli’s wicket in both innings was much discussed among the foreign press as a turning point for the visitors to take the initiative.

Cricket.com.au wrote that India’s fielding would have to be dialled up a few notches to be considered adequate after they were guilty of “squandered four catching opportunities”.

Referring to their poor reviewing, SMH wrote India had “burned their referrals frivolously”. It was seconded by The Australian which wrote that BCCI may campaign to repeal the use of the system since India has had little luck with it.