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Thursday, Aug 22, 2019

Australia spinner Steve O’Keefe changes ends, turns India’s batting upside down

Steve O’Keefe thanks ex-India tweaker Sridharan Sriram, a consultant for Australia, for his inputs after leaving India struggling to save the Pune Test.

cricket Updated: Feb 24, 2017 22:14 IST
Bihan Sengupta
Bihan Sengupta
Hindustan Times, Pune
Australian bowler Steve O'Keefe celebrates his six wickets during the first test match played against India in Pune.
Australian bowler Steve O'Keefe celebrates his six wickets during the first test match played against India in Pune.(PTI)

Australia spinner Steve O’Keefe, India’s tormentor on Day Two of the first Test on Friday, said assurance from captain and coach and a change of ends did the trick after turning the game on its head. (DAY 2 BLOG)

The 32-year-old left-arm spinner had been in the fringes of the Australia team, having played just four Tests coming into the series against India, but upstaged the higher rated off-spinner Nathan Lyon with a sensational haul of 6/35.

Tide turns for O’Keefe

“I was none of 30 off nine, probably didn’t bowl very well at all in my first, sort of, six overs. And then, it all just happened really quickly,” he told the media after leaving Australia in a position to push for victory.

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“The first six overs were ordinary. Then I got a change of ends, and from there it spun a bit more. And (skipper) Steven Smith reassured me, helping me stay calm after an ordinary spell in the morning.

“I suppose I was just nervous, and I was trying to bowl the way I do in Australia. But I made some subtle changes, got a tap on the head from Boof (coach Darren Lehmann) in the dressing room, and I’m happy to turn things around.”

Australia’s brilliant catching

O’Keefe was modest about his haul, putting his success down to the spin-friendly pitch and Australia’s brilliant catching. “I guess that’s the sort of wicket it is. We played and missed a lot of balls, and fortunately for us, they nicked and we caught them. It’s always nice to see a spinning wicket. You don’t get to see it too often back in Australia.”

READ | Steve O’Keefe’s success in Pune not overnight, he planned long and hard for it

He took three wickets in one over as India hurtled to 105 all out. But O’Keefe said the Aussie spinners were prepared, having practiced in Dubai and taken on former Tamil Nadu and India player, S Sriram, a left-arm spinner, as spin consultant.

“It’s what we expected, it’s what we trained for, it’s why we went to Dubai. We got a hang of a similar wicket in Dubai. So it wasn’t a shock, it was exactly what we were expecting,” he said. “You’re not going to come over here and see green, lush wickets. You’re going to see dry and flat wickets.

Sriram, Monty make a difference

He thanked mentors Monty Panesar, the former England left-arm spinner and Sriram. “Monty’s been excellent. It was only two days, but he instilled a bit of belief in what I was doing and it was good to chat with him,” he said. “The biggest influence has been Sri. I’ve worked with him in Chennai in a series. I come on the field, I get to speak with him… he’s a local so he knows the conditions and understands how to bowl in these conditions. He has been the biggest help along with the other coaching staff.”

First Published: Feb 24, 2017 22:09 IST

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