In what was another absorbing passage of play, Australia bowled exceptionally well to bundle out India for 105. If Starc’s double wicket maiden dealt an initial setback, it was Steve O’Keefe’s brilliant spell of left arm spin bowling which caused an Indian batting order collapse.
O’Keefe picked up 6/35 in 13.1 overs and also bagged his maiden five-wicket haul in the process. In his fantastic spell, he produced a three-wicket over, bowled one maiden after it, then took a wicket in each of his next three overs to finish the innings. In that period he astonishingly bagged six wickets for five runs.
A left-arm orthodox bowler and solid lower-order batsman, O’Keefe made his Test debut against Pakistan at Dubai International Cricket Stadium in 2014. But he was not a face which featured regularly in the Australian squad. However, his domestic performance in 2012-13, where he picked up 24 wickets at 22.20 got him into the reckoning. In the Big Bash league he is a regular in the playing eleven for the Sydney Sixers.
Born in Malaysia, the 32-year-old O’Keefe rose to prominence when he took 4/88 against a full strength England squad just before the 2010 Ashes in a practice game. He then dwindled oblivion till opportunities came knocking several years late. In his domestic career he continued to flourish, as he played 66 matches and bagged 225 wickets at an average of 23.81.
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Before this Test against India, O’Keefe had played just 4 Tests and picked up 14 wickets at an average of 32.78 with best figures of 4/103.
His last test match outing was against Pakistan, last month, at the Sydney Cricket Ground where his performance was average as he picked up only 4 wickets in the match. In the final innings of the match he showed a glimpse of his talent as he scalped 3 wickets for 53 runs.
After his exceptional performance in the first innings, Australia will surely look at O’Keefe to shoulder the responsibility of leading the spin attack on the turning tracks in India.