After returning with figures of 12 for 70 in the first Test of the four-match series with India, left-arm spinner Steve O'Keefe became a nemesis for the Indian batting order. But the second and third Tests saw him pick only six wickets and that may cost him his place in the final XI in the fourth Test match starting in Dharamsala on Saturday. O'Keefe's role in the last two matches was reduced to that of a holding bowler as the Australian attack struggled to tackle the Indian batting.
Going by what is in store for both sides at Dharamsala, Australia might opt to go in with an extra seamer instead of a spinner in a pitch that is supposed to assist the faster bowlers. The Pune Test hero, in all likelihood, will be dropped from the playing XI and be replaced by pacer Jackson Bird.
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.
In Ranchi, on a track which was less conducive for spinners, O'Keefe bowled 77 overs without much success. Ranchi was an indicator that O'Keefe 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 almost certain 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 elements 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. As HPCA curator Sunil Chauhan pointed out, those who play shots square off the wicket, will like the wicket. Warner with his fetish for pull shots may find this to be just what the doctor has ordered.
(With PTI Inputs)