Cricket

Smith proud of O'Keefe after big Aussie win

2017-02-26 09:21
Steve O'Keefe (Getty)

Pune - Australia skipper Steve Smith lavished praise on left-arm spinner Steve O'Keefe Saturday for adapting to Indian conditions after he emerged as the unlikely hero in the visitors' first Test win in Pune.

Chasing a daunting victory target of 441, India -- the world's number one side -- crashed to 107 all out in the final session, conceding a 1-0 lead to Australia in the four-match series.

O'Keefe returned with identical figures of 6-35 in both the innings to spell disaster for the hosts, who lost the match by 333 runs inside three days on a viciously turning track.

The 32 year-old's overall figures of 12-70 outshone India's much-fancied spin attack comprising Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Jayant Yadav.

"I am really proud of him," Smith said. "He has worked hard to get here... I love Sok's (Steve O'Keefe) willingness to learn different things and try and adapt to different conditions.

"I know he has worked with Sri (Sridharan Sriram, Australia's spin consultant), who's with us on this tour and Monty (Panesar) back home. He is able to bowl differently (In India) to what he bowls at home."

O'Keefe and fellow spinner Nathan Lyon remained largely ineffective during the team's 3-0 thrashing in Sri Lanka last year and Smith was pleased to see the turnaround.

"For us we have had some disappointing tours of the sub-continent recently. Sri Lanka and last time we were here as well (Australia lost 4-0 to India in 2012).

"We were confident if we stuck to our plans and processes for long enough we can succeed... and hopefully we can continue to do well in the series," said Smith.

Australia ended India's unbeaten streak of 19 matches but Smith sounded more excited with the tourists beating Virat Kohli's men to their own game of spin.

"It was up to them to prepare a wicket, and they prepared a wicket that actually played into our hands. It would be interesting to see what they come up with come Bangalore," said Smith.

The two sides head to Bangalore for the second Test starting March 4.

However India's Kohli still rated his spinners as far more superior, blaming the loss on his side's "worst batting performance" in recent times.

"I think our spinners bowled really well. I wouldn't say what they did better. As I said, if you don't apply yourself, any bowling attack can look dangerous," said Kohli.

"Even a part-timer can get four wickets if you don't apply yourself. And I certainly would like to think that that was the case with our batting line-up in this game."

While India faltered twice after being bowled out for 105 in the first innings, Kohli personally had a rare failure with scores of 0 and 13 in his two outings at India's newest Test venue.

"I would say that we needed something like this for us to get a reality check and understand what are the things we need to work on and keep persisting with it," said Kohli.

"I don't know if people were thinking that we couldn't lose at all, but in our mind there was no such thing. If we don't play good cricket, then any team can beat us," Kohli said of his team's unbeaten run at home since 2012.

Read more on:    india  |  australia  |  steve o'keefe  |  cricket
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