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Saturday, Dec 07, 2019

Steve O’Keefe’s record 12/70 breaks Australia’s 13-year hoodoo in India

Steve O’Keefe picked up 6/35 in both innings to finish with a match haul of 12/70 in the first Test in Pune as Australia spectacularly crushed India by 333 runs to break a 13-year hoodoo.

cricket Updated: Feb 26, 2017 10:56 IST
Siddharth Vishwanathan
Siddharth Vishwanathan
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Steve O’Keefe has notched up the best figures by an overseas spinner in Tests in India after Australia’s 333-run win in Pune.
Steve O’Keefe has notched up the best figures by an overseas spinner in Tests in India after Australia’s 333-run win in Pune.(REUTERS)

Before the start of the series between India and Australia, all the talk was centered on how Australia would succumb to the likes of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. Steven Smith’s team had not enjoyed facing spin. In India, they had lost seven consecutive Tests since 2008. In Asia overall, they had lost nine consecutive Tests. (DAY 3 HIGHLIGHTS)

Heading into the series, the likes of former India captain Sourav Ganguly and Harbhajan Singh said Australia would suffer. Ganguly said, “Australia will find it very hard. They could go the 4-0 way as well.” Harbhajan, who had tormented the Australian batsmen in the past, taking 32 wickets to spark India’s sensational comeback series win in 2001, cheekily pointed out, “This is the weakest Australian side to tour India. If they play badly, they will lose 4-0.”


In a stunning reversal, all pre-series predictions were thrown out of the window as Australia spectacularly turned the tables on India to inflict a 333-run thrashing. Steve Smith’s magnificent century, combined with Mitchell Starc’s cameo set the tone but it was Steve O’Keefe, the left-arm spinner from New South Wales, who stole the show with a haul of 6/35 in both innings to give Australia a historic win.

READ | India vs Australia: Steve O’Keefe’s magic spells doom for Virat Kohli & Co.

The victory in Pune ended Australia’s 13-year wait in India. The last time they won a Test in India was in Nagpur, in October 2004. From then till February 25, 2017, Australia had endured 4502 days of pain in India. They lost eight of their next 10 Tests in India, seven of them in a row. However, Smith’s first match as captain in India has broken the jinx, halting Virat Kohli’s unbeaten streak as skipper at home at 13.


The Pune loss is Kohli’s first at home as captain while India suffered their first loss in a Test at home since 2012. This was Kohli’s third loss as captain, and it ended his 19-match unbeaten run since the Galle Test in August 2015. Australia’s win was possible because of the lion-hearted effort of one bowler whose selection drew criticism. At 32, O’Keefe has provided an exhibition of bowling that will be remembered for a long time.


Steve O’Keefe finished with match figures of 28.1-6-70-12 in the Pune Test. His record haul was the reason Australia ended their winless streak in India. His haul shattered several records and put him in an elite club of bowlers who have had success in India.

O’Keefe’s 12/70 is the best figure by a left-arm spinner in Tests in India. It broke a 73-year record, which was held by England’s Hedley Verity, who picked up 11/153 in Chennai in 1934. O’Keefe is the first left-arm spinner to take 12 wickets in a Test in India.


O’Keefe’s match haul of 12/70 is the best haul by a visiting spinner in India. He is only the second overseas spinner to pick up 12 wickets in a Test in India, the previous being Australia’s Jason Krejza, the off-spinner claiming 12/358 in the Nagpur Test in 2008 in a losing cause.


The left-armer’s haul is the best-ever by an Australian bowler since they started touring India in 1956. Former captain Richie Benaud, who was a leg spinner, had set the benchmark in 1956 when he picked 11 wickets in Eden Gardens. Goeff Dymock and Alan Davidson also took 11 wickets in 1959 in the Kanpur Test. Only seven Australian spinners have taken over 10 wickets in Tests in India and O’Keefe sits on top of the list.


If one has to look at overseas bowlers, then O’Keefe’s haul of 12/70 is the second-best in Tests in India. Ian Botham’s haul of 13/106 remains the best by an overseas bowler in Tests in India. In the centenary Test against India in Mumbai in 1980, the England all-rounder not only picked up 13 wickets but also smashed a 100, a rare instance. O’Keefe is only the second spinner in this list, while the likes of Botham, Fazal Mahmood and Andy Roberts are all pacers.