India vs Australia: Steve O’Keefe’s magic spells doom for Virat Kohli & Co.
Steve O’Keefe returned with match figures of 12/70 as Australia beat India by 333 runs in Pune to take 1-0 lead in four-match series.cricket Updated: Feb 25, 2017 18:17 IST
India’s run of 19 unbeaten Tests came to a drastic halt on Saturday as Australia beat them by 333 runs to lead the four-match series 1-0, here at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium. (LIVE BLOG, LIVE SCORECARD)
The writing was always on the wall since the second session on Day 2. But after Steve Smith scored his maiden ton on Indian soil and the hosts lost six wickets by tea on Saturday, only a few had the heart to hope for a miracle.
The last time Australia toured India, they had been thrashed 0-4. They entered the series as underdogs, given the contrast in the recent run between the two sides, but went on to inflict the second biggest defeat on the hosts at home.
Leading the pack was spinner Steve O’Keefe, who ended with figures of 6-35 in both innings. On a pitch that was tailor-made to suit spinners, the 32-year-old ran through the Indian line-up and ended with as many wickets as Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja took together to finish with best figures in a match by an Australian against India.
Given that three innings had been wrapped up within just seven sessions of play, chasing 441 on this surface was always going to be tough.
Murali Vijay and KL Rahul gave early signs of the fate in store for India, both falling for deliveries that skid off the surface to hit them in front of the stumps. Both reviewed the decisions, with more of hope than conviction in their calls, but had to walk back eventually.
That brought captain Virat Kohli out in the middle. But the way he shouldered arms to an O’Keefe delivery that straightened after hitting the deck encapsulated India’s story. They failed to exploit the surface the way Australia did and only played for turn. Five batsmen were trapped leg-before in the second innings while Kohli and Jadeja had their timber shaken.
Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane did build a brief 30-run partnership after Kohli fell, but Rahane offered a sitter to Lyon at covers after being tempted to play the shot for quite some time. O’Keefe was hammered for two boundaries in his previous over through the off-side but he held on to his line, well aware of Rahane’s preferred shots through the covers. Ashwin and Saha, too, fell in the manner most of their accomplished teammates had, before Lyon wrapped up the tail in quick succession.
Earlier, Steve Smith rode his luck to bring up his 18th Test century after he was dropped thrice on Day 2 and had a couple of lucky reprieves Saturday morning, including a leg-before decision off Jadeja which was turned down. Replays suggested that the Australian captain was plumb, but India, who were shambolic with their review calls this match, didn’t have any remaining.
Smith was also dropped by Rahane at leg-slip this morning, which ran down for his first boundary of the day. But on a pitch where Indians looked like sitting ducks, credit has to be given to Smith for pacing his innings well and help his side take the lead past the 400-mark. By the time he eventually fell to Jadeja, the fate was sealed for the hosts.