Sunday 17 December 2017 / 03:19 PM

O’KEEFE’S CAREER DAY PUTS AUSTRALIA ON TOP

An unbelievable spell from spinner Steve O’Keefe put Australia well in control of the first Test against India in Pune, the underdog tourists finishing Day 2 with a lead of 298 runs with six second-innings wickets in hand.

Australia added just two runs to their overnight total, Mitchell Starc (61) becoming Ravi Ashwin’s third victim on the fifth ball of the morning’s play to end the innings on 260.

Starc and Josh Hazlewood made early inroads, leaving India at 3/44 as Murali Vijay (10), Cheteshwar Pujara (6) and Virat Kohli (0) went cheaply. Kohli had gone 104 innings without registering a Test duck.

Opener Lokesh Rahul made a classy 64, but when he fell to O’Keefe with the score on 94, it sparked an incredible collapse.

India were all out for 105, losing their last seven wickets for just 11 runs – their worst-ever collapse in Tests – as O’Keefe bagged 6/35. Making just his fifth Test appearance, O’Keefe took five scalps in the space of 15 balls.

The Aussies’ second dig didn’t look like going much better as Ashwin trapped openers Shaun Marsh (0) and David Warner (10) lbw.

But a stoic 57 not out from skipper Steve Smith – ably supported by Peter Handscomb (19), Matt Renshaw (31) and Mitch Marsh (21 not out) – steered them through to 4/143 at stumps.

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Will Evans

CBS’s Editor-in-Chief and lead rugby league, union and cricket writer, Will is a Christchurch-based freelancer, also writing for Big League and Rugby League Review magazines, and The New Daily website. Will has written four rugby league books.

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