Aussies leave India in a spin

Cricket First Test : O'Keefe grabs 6/35 as hosts collapse to 105 all out; Visitors take 298-run lead

Aussies leave India in a spin

 Making a mockery of all pre-series assumptions, Australia positioned themselves to land the knockout punch in the opening Test of the four-match series for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Should Australia win, which they should from where they are placed at the moment, it will end India’s glorious run of 19 unbeaten Tests.

If India thought the script was panning out to their expectations after ending Australia’s first innings, overnight 256/9, just five balls into the second day, they were in for the shock of their lives. Unheralded left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe (6/35) triggered an extraordinary Indian collapse in the post-lunch session that was as believable as Arnold Schwarzenegger winning an Oscar in the best actor category.

While it’s unlikely the Hollywood action hero would ever bag the honour, India suffered their worst collapse – seven wickets for 11 runs – in a Test. Their previous worst was seven for 18 against New Zealand in Christchurch in 1989-90. As a result, India capitulated to their lowest total – 105 all out in 40.1 overs -- in a Test innings at home in nearly 10 years when they had been bowled out for 76 by South Africa on a green surface in Ahmedabad in 2008.

Having taken a massive 155-run lead, Australia finished the second day at 143 for four in 46 overs to build their overall lead to 298. On a wearing track, it’s a total that the tourists should feel safe but with a fortuitous Steve Smith still batting on 59 and Mitchell Marsh chugging along unbeaten on 21, Australia would be hoping to extend their lead to at least 400.

While India weren’t completely comfortable having lost three in-from batsmen in the first session of the day, they still had the game in their grasp with KL Rahul (64, 97b, 10x4, 1x6) and Ajinkya Rahane taking them to close to 100-run mark in the post-lunch period with little discomfort. Rahul particularly looked in imperious touch, scoring some delectable boundaries on either side of the square.

Unlike some of his past innings where he has appeared impatient, the right-hander spent biding his time. He sussed up the bowling and sized up the conditions before freeing up himself. So long as he was at the crease, Aussie spinners looked ineffective but once he fell to a moment of indiscretion, O’Keefe was all over the home batsmen like a bad rash. Rahul, who hurt his shoulder while trying to hoist O’Keefe, miscued the shot to David Warner at long-off.

Rahul’s dismissal opened the flood gates as O’Keefe went on to claim two more wickets in the same over-- Rahane and Wriddhiman Saha falling in the space of three balls. R Ashwin was the next to go, this time to Lyon, off a bat-boot catch. Four wickets in just eight balls for one run had plunged India into deep crisis. But more misery was to come soon.

Having tasted blood, O’Keefe went for the kill with no little help from the Indian batsmen themselves. Jayant Yadav was stumped with his foot just on the line, Ravindra Jadeja couldn’t clear Mitchell Starc at long-on and not much was expected of Umesh Yadav. This was O’Keefe’s first five-wicket haul and all his wickets, interestingly, came from the Hill End which he switched to after lunch following a largely unimpressive first spell from the Pavilion End. 

O’Keefe’s performance came after a brilliant show of pace bowling by Starc (2/38) and Josh Hazlewood (1/11) on a surface which required them to bend their back. Hazlewood gave the first breakthrough, eliciting an edge behind the wicket off Murali Vijay. Starc followed it up with twin wickets of Pujara and Kohli in the same over and in the space of three balls. This was Kohli’s first duck in 104 innings at home.      
India’s outside chances now rest in restricting the Australians to 350 and that’s a big ask at the moment.

score board

AUSTRALIA (I Innings; O/n: 256/9):
Starc c Jadeja b Ashwin    61
(84m, 63b, 6x4, 3x6)
Hazlewood (not out)    1
(51m, 31b)
Extras (LB-6, NB-9)    15
Total (all out, 94.5 overs)    260
Bowling: Ishant 11-0-27-0 (nb-1), Ashwin 34.5-10-63-3, Jayant 13-1-58-1 (nb-5), Jadeja 24-4-74-2 (nb-2), Umesh 12-3-32-4 (nb-1)
INDIA (I Innings):
Vijay c Wade b Hazlewood    10
(28m, 19b, 1x4)
Rahul c Warner b O’Keefe    64
(135m, 97b, 10x4, 1x6)
Pujara c Wade b Starc    6
(32m, 23b, 1x4)
Kohli c Smith b Starc    0
(2m, 2b)
Rahane c Handscomb b O’’Keefe    13
(74m, 55b, 1x4)
Ashwin c Handscomb b Lyon    1
(10m, 4b)
Saha c Smith b O’Keefe    0
(2m, 2b)
Jadeja c Starc b O’Keefe    2
(23m, 4b)
Jayant st Wade b O’Keefe    2
(9m, 10b)
Umesh c Smith b O’Keefe    4
(16, 11b)
Ishant (not out)    2
(7m, 5b)
Extras (NB-1)    1
Total (all out, 40.1 overs)    105
Fall of wickets: 1-26 (Vijay), 2-44 (Pujara), 3-44 (Kohli), 4-94 (Rahul), 5-95 (Rahane), 6-95 (Saha), 7-95 (Ashwin), 8-98 (Jayant), 9-101 (Jadeja).
Bowling: Starc 9-2-38-2 (nb-2), O’Keefe 13.1-2-35-6, Hazlewood 7-3-11-1, Lyon 11-2-22-1.
Warner lbw Ashwin    10
(4m, 6b 2x4)
S Marsh lbw Ashwin    0
(19m, 21b)
Smith (batting)    59
(160m, 117b, 7x4)
Handscomb c Vijay b Ashwin    19
(37m, 34b, 3x4)
Renshaw c Ishant b Jayant    31
(57m, 50b, 5x4)
M Marsh (batting)    21
(49m, 48b, 2x4, 1x6)
Extras (LB-3)    3
Total (for 4 wkts, 46 overs)    143

Fall of wickets: 1-10 (Warner), 2-23 (S Marsh), 3-61 (Handscomb) 4-113 (Renshaw). Bowling: Ashwin 16-3-68-3, Jadeja 17-6-26-0, Umesh 5-0-13-0, Jayant 5-0-27-1, Ishant 3-0-6-0.

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