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Australia axe O’Keefe for day-night Test

ADELAIDE: Australia will not be playing two spinners in this week’s first-ever day-night Test against New Zealand and have released Steve O’Keefe from the squad, skipper Steve Smith said Thursday.

Fringe player O’Keefe was originally named along with front-line spinner Nathan Lyon in a 13-man squad in anticipation of playing both on the traditionally spin-friendly Adelaide Oval from Friday.

But Smith said the pitch had more grass than usual and Australia would use three quicks and all-rounder Mitchell Marsh, along with Lyon, for the third Test with the all-new pink ball, which is expected to swing freely during the night session.

“Steve O’Keefe has been released to play Shield cricket and we’re still deciding on the bowlers,” Smith said.

“It was considered obviously (playing two spinners) as he was here to train with us.

“He’s done incredibly well with the pink ball and we thought he might have played a part, but it’s not going to end up that way.”

Much had been made of O’Keefe’s success in taking 18 wickets in three pink ball Sheffield Shield matches for New South Wales, with seven of those wickets coming under lights.

Smith said a decision was still to be made on which pace bowler would drop out of the starting 11 from Josh Hazlewood, Peter Siddle or the recalled James Pattinson.

“We’re going to go in with three quicks and an all-rounder. There’s probably a little bit more grass than I anticipated to be on it so that added bit of grass has probably swayed our decision,” he said.

“It’s nice to have a few fresh faces in and ready to go so we’ll wait and see how we go with the final 11 from there.”

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