Australian coach Darren Lehmann termed the left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe’s first-innings burst (6/35) in the first Test of the four-match series against India as an exceptional spell which was done by Mitchell Johnson (7/40) in Adelaide against England in the 2013 Ashes.
Lehmann told the Australian press, “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 maybe the first time since Monty Panesar in Mumbai five years ago, who tied the Indian batsmen in knots, generally firm players of spin in the series opener game in India. Lehmann stated, “Twelve-for, 6 for 35 in both innings is pretty special. You always hope don’t you, as a player.”
Before the announcement of the Australian squad for the series opener, O Keefe was an unknown face in international cricket and one match-winning effort with the ball has brought him all the stardom and limelight.
He stated, “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.”
Lehmann accepted that he has never seen Steve Smith so determined as he was an evenly satisfying sight on a difficult surface.
Darren added, “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.”
Matt Renshaw has played his first Test in India during the series opener, who Lehmann quite surprised. He 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.”
Renshaw’s adaptability at different positions and different stages of the game also impressed the Aussie coach. Lehmann said, “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.”