LEFT-arm tweaker Stephen O’Keefe has fired in the first innings of Australia’s tour match against the Sri Lanka Cricket Board XI, increasing the chances of the tourists taking a twin-spin attack in the first Test in Kandy.
O’Keefe captured 5-43 off only 12.2 overs on the opening day in Colombo to help dismiss the home side for 229, while incumbent Test spinner Nathan Lyon disappointed with 0-72 from 13 overs.
Australia’s batsmen went about the chase in confident fashion and got to stumps on 1-127 with opener Joe Burns on 64 not and Usman Khawaja 11 not out.
Ominously for the hosts, Mitchell Starc (2-39) showed plenty in his first first-class match since ankle surgery.
Producing his trademark swing and bounce in his opening four-over spell, the left-arm paceman trapped opener Osanda Fernando in front with the third ball of the day.
Tasmanian seamer Jackson Bird (2-26), who took the new ball with Starc in Josh Hazlewood’s absence, also caused problems for the batsmen.
However, all-rounder Mitchell Marsh (1-47) bowled first-change and could be Australia’s third paceman if the selectors decide to go with Lyon and O’Keefe on what is predicted to be a spin-friendly wicket in Kandy starting on Tuesday.
O’Keefe, 31, has played two Tests for Australia.
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