Clarke backs Lyon over Warne

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    Australian captain Michael Clarke has defended Nathan Lyon’s ability to make a difference on final day pitches after the spinner went wicketless in the second innings at Bellerive.

    Lyon finished with figures of 0-57, after taking 2-76 in Sri Lanka’s first dig, on a wearing pitch that played plenty of fourth innings tricks.

    He has been criticised by commentators for bowling too fast and appearing to rush through his overs.

    But Clarke said 12 maidens from his 32 second innings overs showed he was doing his job.

    “There’s always going to be a lot of pressure and expectation on Nathan because we’ve had so many spinners since Warney (Shane Warne),” Clarke said.

    “His results and statistics show that he’s doing a fantastic job for us.

    “He complements our attack really well and I think you’re going to see days where he comes out and takes five wickets and you’re going to see days where he can tie up an end and bowl plenty of dot balls to help the quicks take their wickets.

    “I don’t think we can have the expectation on any player to walk out and perform every single time.”

    The 25-year-old will have the chance to test himself on more spin-friendly decks in Melbourne and Sydney against the world’s leading wicket-taker in 2012, Rangana Herath.

    A bowler down for the second time this summer when Ben Hilfenhaus suffered a side strain, Australia this time had the fallback position of bowling allrounder Shane Watson for 27 second innings overs.

    It meant Peter Siddle wasn’t required to bowl himself into the ground as he did in Adelaide, subsequently missing the third Test against South Africa.

    Clarke said Siddle, who broke the Sri Lankan resistance on day five and took 9-104 for the match, had embraced the role of Australia’s pace spearhead.

    “I think he’s loved that opportunity to be our No.1 strike bowler,” Clarke said.

    “He really looks forward to the pressure situation.

    “If everyone has the heart that he has, we’ll definitely get back to being the No.1 Test team in the world.”

    © AAP 2017

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