SPORT

Australia In Charge Of First Test After Dominating India On Day Two

Steven O'Keefe and Steve Smith, take a bow.

24/02/2017 3:29 PM AEDT | Updated 24/02/2017 10:03 PM AEDT
Danish Siddiqui / Reuters
Spinner Steven O'Keefe was the standout.

Australia is strongly in command of the first Test against India in Pune after some Steven O'Keefe bowling mastery saw him take six wickets and Steve Smith took charge with the bat.

Early in the day, India were travelling smoothly at 3 for 94 after 32 overs in their first innings before O'Keefe stepped up and took three wickets in the following over.

Bowling off an incredibly unpredictable Pune pitch, O'Keefe pulled something out of nothing, taking the wickets of Indian opener Rahul, Rahane and Saha with the first, third and last ball of the over.

All of a sudden, India were sitting at a grim 6 for 95.

His spinner team-mate Nathan Lyon then bowled Ashwin out with an incredible Peter Handscomb catch and O'Keefe kept steaming, taking the wickets of Jayant Yadav and Jadeja leaving India at 9 for 101.

Let us repeat... Australia has taken SIX wickets in seven overs for just 11 runs and things have suddenly taken a turn for the better.

And who else would it be to end India's first innings in Pune? Of course it had to be O'Keefe. With the wicket of Umesh Yadav, he finished with a six-fer, leaving India all out for just 105 -- trailing by 155.

After heading back in to bat for the second innings, both Aussie openers David Warner and Shaun Marsh fell cheaply to Ravi Ashwin balls, being dismissed for 10 and a duck respectively.

The wickets continue a tough start to the first Test for Warner and Marsh who only managed to knock up 38 and 16 in the first innings.

Australia remained at 4 for 133 at a lead of 269 after the tea break with Peter Handscomb having fallen for 19 and Renshaw caught out for 31.

While the openers struggled, Skipper Steve Smith did what Steve Smith does and spearheaded the charge, notching up his 21st half-century -- and his fourth of the summer, to pile as much pressure onto the Indians as possible.

At stumps on Day Two, Australia are in front on the subcontinent at 4 for 143 with a lead of 298.

EARLIER...

Australia has opened the bowling with spin in the first Test against India in Pune. We repeat, a spinner opened the bowling. Which is the sort of thing you see often in Twenty20 cricket, occasionally in One Dayers, but rarely in Test cricket. Especially from Australia.

Mitchell Starc bowled the first over, but thereafter, the new cherry was handed to Steven O'Keefe, the impressive left-armer playing just his fifth Test.

But it was Josh Hazlewood who made the first breakthrough, in the unfamiliar role of first change bowler. He had Murali Vijay caught behind for 10. What a gun. India was 1 for 42 after 13 overs.

And then Mitchell Starc struck with one of those balls that only Starc strikes with. Similar to the ball which ended the tense Brisbane Test against Pakistan earlier this summer, Starc extracted more bounce than anyone thought possible -- and drew a feather of an edge off the glove of Cheteshwar Pujara.

Same over, the unthinkable. Starc tempted Virat Kohli with a wide one which he just couldn't resist. He edged it straight to Steve Smith at first slip. No way our captain was ever going to drop theirs. India 3 for 44. Australia on fire. Mitchell Starc on fire. And Virat Kohli has notched just his fifth Test duck and his first since 2014.

India recovered to be 3 for 70 at lunch.

Earlier, Australia was all out for 260. Starc hit an aggressive four down the ground, tried the same thing again next ball, and was caught on the boundary on the fifth ball of the day.

Thus did the Australian innings come to an end after just a minute or two of play, which meant the rather puny Pune crowd had to sit there and do nothing again for ten minutes during the change of innings.

Starc, of course, cannot be blamed for trying to add quick runs. Having watched his skipper Steve Smith stick around for 95 balls compiling just 27 runs on day one, he adopted the mentality of hit out or get out on a pitch where the ball was turning at right angles.

It worked too. Starc was Australia's second top-scorer in the innings. He has now scored nine fifties in Test cricket, which is seven more than Mitchell Marsh, who continues to be picked for his batting for reasons unfathomable to all Australians whose surname are not Marsh, or who are not cricket selectors.

We'll update this story as the Friday play progresses. The live scorecard is here.

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