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O’Keefe, Smith put Australia on top in Pune Test

Pune [India], Feb.14 (ANI): Left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe completed a six-wicket haul before Steve Smith’s half-century guided Australia to a lead of 298 runs against India at the end of the Day Two of the opening Test at the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) Stadium here on Friday.

Smith (unbeaten at 59) led from the front as he survived three drop catches and shared a 52-run stand with Matt Renshaw (31) to guide the visitors to a second-innings score of 143-4 at stumps.

Mitchell Marsh (21*) remained unbeaten at the crease with Smith. The duo will now aim to extend the side’s lead when they resume Australia’s innings on Saturday.

While Indian spinner Ravichandran Ashwin bagged three wickets on a viciously turning track, Jayant Yadav also chipped in with a wicket.

Earlier, resuming at yesterday’s score of 256-9, Australia were bundled out for 260, losing their final wicket of Mitchell Starc (61) off Ashwin’s delivery.

Ashwin’s third wicket of that innings was his 64th of the home season and as a result of which he also surpassed former captain Kapil Dev’s record of 63 wickets in a single Test season.

In the previous and lone Test against Bangladesh, Ashwin became the fastest bowler to clinch 250 wickets in the longest format of the game and surpassed Australian bowling legend Dennis Lillee’s record.

In reply, India fell like a pack of cards in their first innings, losing their last seven wickets in the space of just 11 runs to be eventually bowled out for a pathetic 105.

Opener KL Rahul was the lone batsman to pull off an innings of substance as he smashed 64 off 97 balls, including 10 fours and a six.

O’Keefe was the pick of the bowlers for Australia as he finished with remarkable figures of six for 35 and helped his side gain a massive first innings lead of 155 runs. It was also O’Keefe’s first five-wicket Test haul.

Mitchell Starc contributed with two wickets while Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon scalped a wicket each. (ANI)