Nathan Lyon’s third five-wicket haul in his 21-Test career has brought Australia right back into the fourth Test.
Peter Siddle registered his maiden Test half-century but only added four runs to his overnight score, eventually dismissed for 51. James Pattinson, who also battled courageously on day one, didn’t last long as he was dismissed for 30, ending Australia’s innings on a respectable 262.
Australia’s last three wickets toiled for 126 runs, furthur outlining the vulnerability of Australia’s top batsmen throughout the series.
It seemed Australia would be in for yet another long frustrating day in the field after the in-form Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara put on 108 in just 25 overs for the first wicket. But Lyon snared two quick wickets before lunch, Pujara bowled and Virat Kohli lbw.
India’s middle order once again struggled to make a big impact, Siddle getting Vijay with a vicious bouncer, Pattinson getting MS Dhoni cheaply and Lyon grabbing debutant Ajinkya Rahane, the huge wicket of Sachin Tendulkar and Ravi Ashwin on the last ball of the day.
Maxwell also came into the attack and immediately removed Ravindra Jadeja with yet another controversial lbw decision. Jadeja offered no shot to a ball that straightened on off stump but replays suggest it may have spun passed the off stump.
India finished 8/266 at stumps, with a lead of just four with only two wickets in hand, the match evenly poised heading into day three
Much criticism has been made of Nathan Lyon, many questioning his technique, line and length and whether he should be in the Test team at all. But Lyon hit back in the best possible way with 5/94 off 22.1 overs.
For the first time in the series, Lyon was not only getting the ball to turn and bounce significantly but also troubling the Indian batsmen at regular intervals.
His performance so far in this innings will not only give him confidence going into the second innings but it will boost his self-confidence a huge amount heading into the double Ashes series later this year and silence some of the critics.
Lyon’s record of 72 wickets at an average of 34 with a strike rate of 66 after 20 and a half Tests is the best of any spin bowler since Shane Warne, which is main reason he should be persisted with come the Ashes and in the future.
At 25 he can only get better and with a few more adjustments to his technique he could well be a successful long-term off-spinner for Australia.