Boof lauds exceptional O’Keefe

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Australia coach Darren Lehmann has been left in awe of left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe after his 12 wicket haul set up victory in the first Test in India.

Lehmann likened the performance to that of Mitchell Johnson in the 2013 Ashes in Adelaide.

O’Keefe grabbed six wickets in the space of 25 balls to reduce India to 105 all out having been 70 for 3 at one stage in their first innings.

Speaking after the match Lehmann said: “An exceptional spell – I haven’t seen that since Mitchell Johnson in the Ashes with England in Adelaide when he tore them apart.

O’Keefe had the India batsmen at sixes and sevens a remarkable feat when you consider none of the five spinners England used in their visit were able to come even close to achieving a similar feat.

Whether it was working with Monty Panesar, who helped inspire England’s 2012 series win in India, that did the trick we may never know but O’Keefe certainly got into the batsmen’s heads and caused chaos.

Lehmann added: “Twelve-for, 6 for 35 in both innings is pretty special.

“You always hope don’t you, as a player. I actually thought Nathan Lyon bowled just as well, to be perfectly honest. Nathan’s been under pressure from a lot of sources throughout the subcontinent, myself included. I thought he was outstanding in this game. He was brilliant, so both spinners did the job, but Steven was exceptional getting the rewards.”

The coach also lauded the performance of skipper Steve Smith whose second innings ton just about sealed victory.

Smith has now reached a career high ratings points level attaining more points than Sir Garfield Sobers and Kumar Sangakkara among others.

Lehmann felt Smith’s 18th Test ton may have been his best yet.

He went on: “I think it’s probably his best, especially in those conditions.

“I haven’t seen him so determined. He’s always determined – he’s captain of our country and plays really well obviously, but he knows conditions on that wicket [were difficult]. To make a hundred was very special, so that’d have to be in his top few for sure.”

Lehmann back opener Matt Renshaw to have continued success in the series the young man struggled through illness to top score in Australia’s first innings before adding a useful 31 in the second.

The coach added: “He hadn’t actually hit the ball that well in our lead-up, but for some reason when he gets out in the middle, he knows exactly what he wants to do and how he wants to do it.

“So for a 20-year-old that’s pretty special. I think he’ll back that up in Bangalore.

“For him to come out, obviously a bit crook here and there, and to bat in different positions and had a clear plan, especially in the second innings, the way he wanted to go about it. That’s good for a young man to have that insight into the game so early.”

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