Steve O’Keefe replicated his first innings figures of 6/35 as Australia thrashed India by 333 runs to win the first Test match. Left-arm spinner O’Keefe took 12 wickets in the match as the tourists took a 1-0 lead in the four-test series. His match figures of 12/70 by Steve O’Keefe is the second best figures for a visiting bowler in India after 13/106 by Ian Botham in Mumbai in 1980.
O’Keefe’s 6 for 35 was the third best by a visiting left-arm spinner in India, behind Hedley Verity’s 7 for 49 in 1934 and Michael Clarke’s 6 for 9 in 2004, and they were also the second-best figures of O’Keefe’s first-class career. He also went on to record his maiden test 10-wicket haul.
The left-armer, playing in only his fifth Test, ran through the India order after taking the new ball, putting Australia in complete control. One of the prized dismissals was that of Virat Kohli whom he completely outfoxed with a ball that pitched on the off-stump and went straight on.
Earlier, in the first innings, O’Keefe produced a fantastic spell of bowling where he got 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.
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.
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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.