India tormentor O'Keefe expected to be left at home


Steve O'Keefe revealed he thought a call-up for the tour of India was "unreachable" after claiming Test-best figures to put Australia on course to end their long wait for a win in Asia.

Eyebrows were raised when the selectors kept faith with O'Keefe, but their loyalty was rewarded when the spinner took 6-35 in a devastating spell to skittle the top-ranked Test side for just 105 on day two in Pune.

O'Keefe took five wickets in only 19 balls as the hosts - who are unbeaten in 19 Tests - lost their last seven wickets for only 11 runs on Friday after they were 93-3 in reply to Australia's 260 all out.

The 32-year-old tweaker had no joy in his first six overs after being handed the new ball, but a change of ends paid dividends and his captain Steve Smith was unbeaten on 59 at stumps with the tourists 143-4 - leading by 298.

Australia have gone nine Tests without a win in Asia - losing their last seven - and O'Keefe said he thought he would be at home rather than playing a key role in trying to set that unwanted record straight.

He said: "Going to Sri Lanka, I thought that was my big opportunity, and I sort of messed that one up. To be honest, I always thought an India tour was there but that it was almost unreachable.

"To be given this opportunity - I've tried to make the most of it and I've prepared for it back home by giving away some of the Big Bash cricket to prepare solely for red-ball cricket.

He added: "It's amazing how things can quickly change over here. I probably didn't bowl very well at all in my first six overs. And then it all just happened really quickly.

"I guess that's the sort of wicket it is. We played and missed at a lot of balls, and fortunately for us they nicked them and we caught them. It was a good day to be a part of and well finished off by the batters."

Despite being in such a strong position, O'Keefe said Australia are not getting ahead of themselves, given the talent India possess.

He added: "It means a lot to do well, but we're day two in a four-Test series, so we're not getting ahead of ourselves."

"Right now we'll enjoy it, we had a good day, but that's all it is. It's just a good day's cricket.

"We know this Indian team, how well they can bat, and even in spinning conditions they're exceptional players. They're all match-winners, all their top seven batters, you'd even argue the top eight.

"We've got our work cut out for us. We're 300 ahead - let's get more and let's create 10 chances tomorrow and hold on to them."