Australian Steven O’Keefe
Pune: Not in his wildest dreams would Steven Smith have thought that Australia would sense a win after just two days of playing Test cricket in India.
After watching their batsmen take a giant leap towards playing quality spin bowling on a difficult track, the Steven O'Keefe-led Australian bowlers out-bowled their fancied counterparts in Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin. Ever since the 2015 'A' tour of India, O'Keefe had been pencilled in as part of Australia's plans to win in the sub-continent. The idea to make O'Keefe the lynchpin of the Australian bowling attack revolved around the fact that he would pose more of a threat in spin-friendly conditions due to the technicalities in his action. The fact that O'Keefe had always overshadowed Nathan Lyon on the spin-friendly pitch at the Sydney Cricket ground for New South Wales, was the perfect indicator that Australian cricket had a bowler that would fit the bill in India.
The only thing that was required to complete O'Keefe's education was to find a coach who had the experience of bowling in Asia. Troy Cooley, head coach at Cricket Australia's Centre of Excellence introduced O'Keefe to former India cricketer Sridharan Sriram a couple of years ago in Chennai. Since then, the two struck a great rapport. At the end of the day's play yesterday, O'Keefe credited his mentor for the special spell of 6 for 35. “I think Sriram is an excellent coach. I've worked with him a couple of times and he's impressive,” O'Keefe said.
After an uninspiring opening spell, Sriram took O'Keefe out to the middle during the lunch break and pointed to an area on the pitch where he should be aiming at. O'Keefe followed the instructions and changed the course of the match with figures of 6 for 5 in 25 deliveries.