What’s the story?
Australian spinner Steve O’Keefe has laid down the marker ahead of the upcoming 4-Test series against India. Whilst claiming that Virat Kohli’s team is not yet invincible on home soil, the 32-year old expressed eagerness to exploit certain cracks in their lineup.
O’Keefe said, “Look, it is a daunting task but in saying that there are cracks in their walls. They are not infallible and if you are playing on wickets which are spinning and straightening, you try to beat both sides of the bat and stay positive. You can get wickets by using the same sort of recipe, by attacking the stumps, changing the pace, trying to hit the top of off-stump. Even the best players of the world may find it difficult on wickets that are playing a few tricks.”
In case you missed it...
Both O’Keefe and opener Matthew Renshaw have been training under the watchful eyes of England spinner Monty Panesar at the Centre of Excellence in Brisbane. Cricket Australia have enlisted his help as a spin bowling consultant in order to try and improve the team’s woeful record on Asian soil.
The heart of the matter
India are the top-ranked Test team in the world and have been in imposing form in recent times. They are on a streak of five successive series triumphs and yet to taste defeat in 18 matches. During the previous series against Australia on home soil, their spinners wreaked havoc to complete a 4-0 whitewash.
The Aussies have their task cut out this time as well. Keeping the conditions in mind, four specialist spinners will board the plane to India. O’Keefe felt that all bases have been covered in their squad which also includes the returning Glenn Maxwell. Aside from heaping praises on the likes of Ashton Agar and Mitchell Marsh, the left-arm spinner added that Renshaw would be another individual to keep an eye on during the series.
While India are currently in the midst of the limited-overs leg of the England series, they have a one-off Test against Bangladesh before Australia arrive on to their shores. On the other hand, Steve Smith’s side also have a few white-ball commitments in the intervening period. For O’Keefe though, more training sessions await until the first Test in Pune next month.
Considering Australia’s recent travails in the subcontinent, the series in India stands as a monumental challenge. However, as they often say, nothing can be taken for granted in cricket. O’Keefe’s positive statements could be indicative of his team’s nothing-to-lose approach which should turn the upcoming edition of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy into a fascinating affair.Published 19 Jan 2017, 21:00 IST