The hero of the Pune Test in which Australia trounced India by 333 runs in just three days was not Steve O’Keefe, but a Chennai `spin doctor’.
The man behind one of India’s worst home defeats on Saturday was of course Steve O’Keefe. But the brain behind the magnificent win was Chennai’s Sridharan Sriram for came up with a plan that helped O’Keefe achieve career-best match-figures of 12/70.
Said O’Keefe: “I think the biggest influence has been Sri. I’ve worked with him in Chennai in the ‘A’ series (in 2015). I come on the field, I get to speak with him, he’s a local, so he knows the conditions. I get to spend the lunchtime bowling with him. And he understands how to bowl in these conditions – how the batters are thinking.”
Cricket Australia’s association with Sriram started in 2015, when he helped the ‘A’ team handle the conditions at Chepauk. After that, he has been part of the Australian set-up as a consultant in their sub-continent tours, helping the players deal with the mystery of spin.
It’s not just O’Keefe who has benefited from Sriram’s inputs. Even the batsmen got an idea on how to play Ravindra Jadeja on a turning track from the former Indian all-rounder, who had played 8 ODIs in the early 2000s. “Sri is an excellent spin-bowling coach. I’ve worked with him a couple times now and he’s really impressive,” O’Keefe said.
In fact, it was Sriram who told the left-arm spinner where he was going wrong after the first session on the second day when he went without a wicket. “He tapped me on the head in between sessions and he’s not afraid to say it to your face, which is excellent,” O’Keefe added.