Dharamsala Test: O’Keefe may be dropped, Bird in contention

The pitch for the fourth Test will likely be a seamer-friendly one which may force Steve Smith to opt for a third seamer in Jackson Bird.

Steve O'Keefe registered figures of 3 for 199 in 77 overs in Ranchi.   -  AP

Australia’s Pune Test hero Steve O’Keefe in all likelihood will be dropped from the playing XI at expense of pacer Jackson Bird for the fourth Test match against India, starting Saturday. The Dharamsala track has traditionally been a seamer-friendly track which may force Steve Smith to opt for a third seamer in Bird, who is known to extract good bounce off the pitch.

For O’Keefe, the man who got 12 wickets on an under-prepared Pune track, the Bangalore and Ranchi outings were not as yielding as the series opener. In Ranchi, on a track which was less conducive for spinners, O’Keefe bowled 77 overs without much success, indicating the left-arm spinner needs help from the track to trouble the batsman.

Nathan Lyon didn’t bowl at the nets on Thursday but with his ability to get turn and bounce from the track, he is expected to retain his place as former fast bowler Mitchell Johnson had indicated. It’s a no-brainer that Australia will play an extra seamer. Bird bowled at length to David Warner during the optional net session. He looked sharp, got the ball to rear up as Warner looked in some discomfort.

Warner has not been in his element during the series as he has frittered away some of the starts that he got in first three Test matches. However the track in Dharamsala is exactly to his liking. Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) curator Sunil Chauhan had pointed out that those who play shots square of the wicket will like the wicket.

Warner with fetish for pull shots may find ‘just what the doctor has ordered.’

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