Smith overwhelmed to end Australia’s 13-year wait

Pune, Feb 25 (IANS) Despite being rated lowly in the run-up to the first cricket Test against India, Australia skipper Steve Smith, whose defiant ton helped the visitors thrash the hosts by 333 runs and end their 19-match unbeaten run, is overwhelmed to register their first win in the sub-continent after a gap of 13 long years.

Rating his patient 109 off 202 balls in the second innings, on top of his 18 Test hundreds, Smith said getting a 1-0 lead in the four-Test series is something massive.

“Thought it was going to be hardwork. I’m proud of the way the guys played. Winning the toss was a bonus, good plans in place. It’s been 4502 days since Australia won a Test in India, I know it to the day,” Smith said in the post-match presentation ceremony.

“A massive lead in this wicket. We’ve got some good players of spin and good spinners.”

Hailing his left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe, who returned with a career-best match haul of 12/70 to help Australia dismiss India for 105 and 107, the 27-year-old Smith said: “O’Keefe was outstanding. When he pulled his length back slightly (O’Keefe), it felt he’d get a wicket every ball. You need to have some luck on a wicket like that. It took a lot of grit and determination.”

Australia coach Darren Lehmann, who was himself a great exponent of taking on the spinners head-on during his playing days, is impressed with the way his wards performed in the Test.

“Great result, really impressed with our batting. It’s a challenge for both sides. We learned some lessons from Sri Lanka,” he said.

Lehmann, however, cautioned his side that the hosts will bounce back hard in the second Test and it will be a challenge for the Kangaroos.

“A challenge to replicate that in Bengaluru. We spoke about good defence and take on the game when you can,” he said.

Playing his first Test in the sub-continent, the 32-year-old O’Keefe, who returned with identical figures of 6/35 in each inning, was deservingly named the Man of the Match.

“The first innings was a bit of blur. The ball tended to skid on more than spin so it exposed the stumps and the leg before wicket,” O’Keefe said.

“My first six wickets was ordinary, I had to change it up quickly. Our batters worked really hard not to get beaten on one edge,” he added.

Both the sides will now face off in the second Test, starting on March 4 in Bengaluru.

–IANS

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