O'Keefe tears through India to put Australia in command


Steve O'Keefe claimed his first five-wicket haul in an astonishing India collapse to put Australia well on course to end their Asia hoodoo after just two days of the first Test in Pune.

O'Keefe's role at international level has been called into question, but the left-arm spinner silenced his critics by taking Test-best figures of 6-35 as India were skittled out for just 105 in reply to 260.

The 32-year-old claimed five wickets in 19 balls, including KL Rahul for 64, to stun a sparse crowd at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, where the top-ranked side feebly lost their last seven wickets for just 11 runs on Friday.

Australia are without a win in 11 Tests in Asia - losing their last nine - but look set to end that dismal run after closing on 143-4, leading by 298 with Steve Smith still there on 59 after he was dropped three times.

Ravichandran Ashwin (3-63) ensured there were no more fireworks from Mitchell Starc (61) by dismissing the left-arm quick in the first over of the day after his magnificent knock in the evening session on day one gave Australia momentum.

Josh Hazlewood got the breakthrough with his fifth ball when Murali Vijay edged behind and Starc (2-38) then came to the fore with two huge wickets in a superb over to reduce India to 44-3.

The paceman removed Cheteshwar Pujara with a peach of a delivery which he gloved through to Matthew Wade and claimed the big scalp of Virat Kohli, who was tempted into a drive but could only edge his second ball to slip without scoring.

Rahul kept ticking along with some glorious drives and skipped down the track to smash O'Keefe for six, but India crumbled after the opener had a rush of blood and holed out to the spinner.

India fell like a pack of cards and it was O'Keefe who proved to be the ace in the pack for Australia, with Peter Handscomb taking brilliant catches to see the back of Ajinkya Rahane and Ashwin.

O'Keefe took his first three wickets in one over during a remarkable afternoon session and he had six wickets in a flash as India folded.

David Warner opened with Shaun Marsh in Australia's second innings due to Matt Renshaw spending time off the field and both men fell lbw to Ashwin to reduce the tourists to 23-2.

Ashwin had a third wicket when Handscomb tickled him to short leg, but substitute fielder Abhinav Mukund spilled two catches and Vijay also failed to hold on as Smith had lives on 23, 29 and 37.

Smith took a positive approach to the spinners, while Renshaw (31) showed character to battle on despite seemingly struggling with illness and a blow to the hand, with Mitchell Marsh 21 not out at stumps on a dream day for the tourists.