India vs Australia Pune Test: The Australian team landed in India with an immense pressure to improve their record in the Asian sub-continent, specifically in India where they have failed to win a single Test series since 2004. In a bid to revive their team’s performance, selectors opted for a 4-man spin attack which created a lot of buzz even before the Kangaroos took the field against India. As it turned out on Day2 of the Pune Test, left-arm orthodox spinner, Steve O’Keefe produce a magical spell finishing with the figures of 35/6 helping the visitors to stop Virat Kohli and team to a substandard score of 105 from 94/3 at one stage.
While O’Keefe will make most of the headlines after this incredible performance, there is one man who deserves equal. if not credit for these heroics. Monty Panesar, the former England spinner who was roped in as the bowling consultant for the tour had a big role to play as well. For any other cricket fan, Panesar is another highly-ranked player who failed to fulfil his potential picking up just 167 wickets from his 50 Tests at an average of 34.71 but for the Indian fans, he is probably the biggest nightmare and one of the few spinners who dominated Indian batsmen at their home.
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He ran a riot on England’s 2012 tour of India during the four-match Test series. After England had lost the first match by 9 wickets, Panesar was brought in to the playing XI and along with Graeme Swann, made the Indian batsmen dance to his tunes. While Swann finished as the leading wicket-taker of the series with 20 scalps, Panesar ended up with 17 wickets in three matches. Thanks to their impressive performance England won the series 2-1, their first in India since 1984-85. Former England captain Michael Vaughan hailed it as a bigger victory than 2010-11 Ashes tour of Australia.
While it might be too early to say that Australia can replicate the performance, one thing is for sure that Monty Panesar has once again defeated the Indian cricket team in the mind game. Getting out to Australia for just 105 runs in the first innings of a long Test series is a huge psychological defeat for the Indians.