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AUSTRALIA V INDIA TESTS

O'Keefe's sensational red-ball return

14 January 2017

O'Keefe is set to be named in Australia's Test squad on Sunday // Getty

Spinner prepares for Test tour of India with nine-wicket haul in Sydney grade cricket

Test spinner Stephen O'Keefe has tuned up for next month's Test tour of India with a nine-wicket haul in Sydney’s Premier cricket today.

Scorecard: Manly-Warringah v Campbelltown-Camden

It was announced this week that the left-armer would play some red-ball cricket ahead of the India tour and returned to his club side Manly-Warringah instead of playing for the Sydney Sixers in the KFC Big Bash League.

O'Keefe is set to be named in Australia's Test squad when it is named tomorrow and he showed he's in good form with a sensational haul of 9-54 against Campbelltown-Camden.

One of O'Keefe's nine scalps was that of former England spinner Monty Panesar as Campbelltown-Camden were bowled out for just 139 on the opening day of the two-day clash.

Manly-Warringah opening bowler Matty White picked up the opening wicket before O'Keefe claimed nine wickets in a row.

O'Keefe's sensational figures on Saturday // mycricket.cricket.com.au
O'Keefe's sensational figures on Saturday // mycricket.cricket.com.au

Manly club captain Adam Crosthwaite said O'Keefe was "on a different level" and expected his star spinner to bowl plenty more overs on Sunday.

"SOKey (O'Keefe) was outstanding," he told AAP. "We gave him the ball and let him go.

"SOK and I have played together since we were 16 or 17 (years old) and that's the best I've ever seen him bowl.

"He's on fire. He's spinning it and not missing his line.

"He'll probably have another 20 odd (overs) - he'll have as many overs as he wants, that's where I'm at with him.

"He just wanted a volume of overs before India and he's definitely going to get it."

O'Keefe told News Ltd this week that it was his decision, not Cricket Australia's, to return to Premier cricket and he will also travel to Melbourne next week to play a second XI game for NSW.

But having missed three Sheffield Shield matches earlier this summer, O'Keefe said he was keen to get as many overs under his belt as possible.

"The day after the (Sydney) Test I initiated a phone call with Pat Howard, asking him the best way to prepare for India," O'Keefe said.

"I had played two first-class matches out of a possible five (this season), and looking at the next month before the team went away to India, I saw an opportunity to play some red-ball cricket.

"The Big Bash has been a big part of my career, but it was a sacrifice I had to make.

SOK snares three as Aussies clean up

"If I played Big Bash, I would have bowled a maximum 12 overs. If I play grade cricket, I can bowl up to 20 overs this weekend, then go away and play a second XI game and bowl up to 30 or 40 overs."

O'Keefe, who has played four Tests, is expected to be named alongside frontline spinner Nathan Lyon when the Test squad in named in Melbourne tomorrow.

The finger-spinning duo could be joined by a wrist-spinner, with uncapped duo Adam Zampa and Mitchell Swepson in the frame for their first Test call-up.

The announcement of Australia's Test squad to tour India will be live streamed on cricket.com.au on Sunday at 10am AEDT.

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