O’Keefe takes six as Australia skittle India for 105
PUNE: Left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe picked up six wickets in 24 deliveries, including three in an over, to trigger a spectacular collapse and help Australia bundle out India for 105 in their first innings on the second day of the opening test on Friday.
Replying to Australia’s 260, world’s top-ranked side India, unbeaten in their previous 19 tests, lost their last seven wickets for 11 runs as O’Keefe ran through their batting to finish with figures of 6-35, his maiden five-wicket haul.
Australia took a first innings lead of 155, a significant advantage on a spin-friendly track at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, which is making its debut as a test centre.
The tourists lost David Warner and Shaun Marsh, who opened the innings in place of Matt Renshaw, to off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin in their second innings to reach 46-2 at tea, an overall lead of 201.
Captain Steve Smith was unbeaten on 27 with Peter Handscomb eight not out.
India’s meltdown started after lunch when opener Lokesh Rahul perished, holing out off O’Keefe’s bowling.
Rahul, who top-scored for his side with 64, collapsed on the ground immediately after playing the shot, clutching his left shoulder and looking in pain.
The dismissal ended a fourth-wicket stand of 50 between Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane and what followed was a procession of batsmen returning to the pavilion.
Two deliveries later, Rahane was out for 13 off O’Keefe, who also dismissed wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha in the same over.
Off-spinner Nathan Lyon picked up Ashwin in the next over before O’Keefe wrapped things up with the dismissals of Ravindra Jadeja, Jayant Yadav and Umesh Yadav.
Australia paceman Mitchell Starc earlier ripped the heart out of India’s top order with two wickets in three balls.
Cheteshwar Pujara was dismissed for six, while India captain and batting mainstay Virat Kohli was despatched for a two-ball duck on a wicket favouring both pace and spin.
Following Kohli’s lead, Australia skipper Steve Smith used O’Keefe as early as the second over on the dry pitch.
O’Keefe was largely ineffective with the new ball, however, before right-arm paceman Josh Hazlewood came on to break India’s opening stand in his first over when he induced Murali Vijay into edging a catch behind for 10.
Starc dismissed Pujara with a rising delivery that brushed the batsman’s glove and sailed through to wicketkeeper Matthew Wade.
The sparse crowd appeared indifferent to Pujara’s dismissal as they anticipated the arrival of the popular Kohli, who recently became the first batsman to hit four double-centuries in as many consecutive series.
The boisterous exuberance was soon replaced by stunned silence two balls later when the right-hander chased a full and wide delivery from Starc to offer up a routine slip catch for his fifth duck in 93 innings and first since August 2014.