India vs Australia, 1st Test: Steve O'Keefe's spin, batsmen's grit help visitors thrash hosts

Pune: Unheralded left-arm spinner Steve O'Keefe grabbed a sensational match-haul of 12 wickets as a sloppy India slumped to a humiliating 333-run defeat on Saturday inside three days in the first cricket Test against Australia in Pune.

Australia set a daunting target of 441, riding on skipper Steve Smith's batting masterclass on a rank turner, and then skittled out the hapless hosts for a paltry 107 in 33.5 overs to take a 1-0 lead in the four-match series.

Australia's Steve Smith celebrates after scoring a century on Day 3 of the first Test against India. AP

Australia's Steve Smith celebrates after scoring a century on Day 3 of the first Test against India. AP

The embarrassing defeat also ended India's unbeaten streak of 19 Tests with the last defeat coming against England at Kolkata in late 2012. The 32-year-old O'Keefe did the star turn once again with identical figures of 6/35 in both innings as India failed to even cross 110 in both innings.

It was a total disaster for the World No 1 Test team, who were simply outclassed in all departments of the game and they further compounded their miseries with atrocious shot selection, shoddy fielding and poor referrals.

Skipper Virat Kohli had a rare bad Test match where he had scores 0 and 13. India collectively posted their lowest aggregate for a home Test match and ended up suffering their second biggest defeat at home in terms of runs. Kohli was out in the second innings shouldering arms to an angled delivery from O'Keefe which dashed India's minuscule hopes of a miraculous comeback.

As many as six Indian batsmen failed to reach double figures with only Cheteshwar Pujara showing some stomach for fight with a score of 31. After Smith's superb 109 — his 18th Test ton on a spiteful pitch, there was no comeback for India as both openers KL Rahul and Murali Vijay made a mess of DRS when it was the umpire's call. With demons of the turner working overtime on their minds, the Indian batsmen were unable to negotiate the turner which boomeranged on them.

The Indian batsmen, similar to the first innings, had no clue on how to tackle 32-year-old O'Keefe, who had his finest hour in international cricket. Neither could they properly negotiate wily Nathan Lyon (4/53) as both made life miserable for the Indian batsmen. In fact, the Aussie spinners showed how to bowl on a turner something that was lacking in Ravichandran Ashwin (match figures of 7/182), Ravindra Jadeja (match haul of 5/139) and Jayant Yadav (2/101).

After the 7/11 debacle in the first innings, the second innings saw India lose 6 for 8. Earlier, Australia – having taken a commanding first innings lead of 155 by scoring 260 and then bundling out the hosts for a paltry 105 – rode on captain Stephen Smith’s lucky and plucky first-ever century on Indian soil (109) to make 285 before they were dismissed at the end of the first session which was extended.

Smith, given multiple lives, compiled his first hundred in this country and of the series itself as Australia tightened the noose around a dispirited and deflated India. India crashed from 89 for five to 107 all out in under ten overs. Vijay and Rahul both were trapped leg before, by O’Keefe and Lyon respectively and also foolishly decided to go in for DRS when both appeared to be caught plumb in front, leaving India without any DRS calls after 5.3 overs when they had slumped to 16 for 2.

While Vijay was deceived by a straight ball, Rahul played back to be low on the pads and both were instantly given out before asking for DRS. Kohli and no. 3 Pujara, who looked the most assured of the top order in handing vicious turn, took the score along to 47 when the India skipper, expecting the ball to turn, offered no shot and O'Keefe's delivery held its line and hit the off stump.

Rahane was out on the drive, caught by Lyon diving forward at short covers, to give O'Keefe his third wicket of the innings and ninth of the game. And to make matters even more hopeless for the hosts, Ravichandran Ashwin was out leg before to O'Keefe. Ashwin was given not out by the umpire before Australia pressed for DRS and got the verdict reversed in their favour.

Later Saha was out leg before in the last over before tea to complete a miserable second session for the home team. Australia, ahead by 155 runs on the first innings, were dismissed by the hosts for 285 in the extended first session. India's highest ever successful fourth innings run-chase at home has been 387 against England in 2008 at Chennai.

The visitors added 142 runs in the extended opening session in 41 overs after commencing at the overnight 143 for 4 with Smith (59) and Mitchell Marsh (21) at the crease. Smith curbed his natural attacking instincts to slowly and steadily inch his way to 109 in 255 minutes and 202 balls, inclusive of 11 fours, when he was trapped leg before by Ravindra Jadeja for his second wicket of the morning. However, by the time of the visiting team’s skipper departure at 246 the Australian lead had swelled past the 400 mark – a huge one by any reckoning that looks impregnable on
this treacherous pitch.

Mitchell Starc, who made a whirlwind 61 in the first innings, later treated the bowlers harshly by striking 3 sixes and 2 fours in a quick-fire 30 off 31 balls before he was caught in the deep off Ravichandran Ashwin to give the off spinner his first wicket of the day and fourth overall. Jadeja sent back Marsh for 31 and Stephen O’Keefe for 6 to terminate the innings and end up with innings figures of 3 for 65 while Ashwin's analysis read 4 for 119. Umesh Yadav, the only other successful bowler, finished with 2 for 39 to add to his 4 for 32 in the first innings.


Published Date: Feb 25, 2017 03:58 pm | Updated Date: Feb 25, 2017 04:13 pm


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