Sport Cricket Nathan Lyon bags eight as India crumbles for 189

Nathan Lyon bags eight as India crumbles for 189

Nathan Lyon
Nathan Lyon's 8-50 was the best effort in a Test innings by a visiting bowler. Photo: AAP
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It was the hallmark of the all-conquering Australian teams of the 1990s and early 2000s.

A bowling attack of Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne et al would target the opposition’s most threatening batsman, “the leader of the pack”, and seek to diminish his influence in the hope that the entire batting order would unravel.

Former captain Steve Waugh spoke about ”owning the headspace” and ”mental disintegration”.

Nobody is about to suggest that this Australian bowling attack is intimidating Indian captain Virat Kohli, but its performance against him so far in this series is proving pivotal.

Following on from Steve O’Keefe’s heroics in the first Test, off-spinner Nathan Lyon bagged 8-50 as India crumbled to be all out for 189. In reply, Australia was 0/40 at stumps.

Lyon’s figures were not only the best of his 65-Test career, but the best figures in a Test inning by a touring bowler in India, beating Lance Klusener’s 8-64 for South Africa in Kolkata in 1996.

And the second of his scalps was the prized wicket of Kohli for 12.

The world’s leading batsman was out LBW and for the second time in this series he was dismissed while failing to offer a shot to the spinners he normally domineers.

In a sign that his thinking might be muddled, Kohli referred his dismissal to the third umpire, who promptly ruled that he had been caught plumb in front.

Former Australian batsman Matthew Hayden, commentating for Star Sports, described the dismissal as “a judgement error from the best batsman in the world”.

“There’s only one reason for that and it’s pressure. Pressure created by Nathan Lyon,” Hayden said, “It’s something so rare from Virat.”

On the eve of this match Kohli had dismissed as ”typical Australian mind games” the suggestion from Australian captain Steve Smith that Australia were just “one or two sessions” away from retaining the Border-Gavaskar trophy and that the hosts would “feel under a bit of pressure”.

And yet from three innings in this series, Kohli has just 25 runs from 56 balls. This from a man who had come into this four-Test series in career-best touch, having posted a double-ton in each of his preceding four series.

Virat Kohli
Indian skipper Virat Kohli trudges back to the pavilion after being dismissed for 12 by Nathan Lyon.

Lyon has now dismissed the 28-year-old batsman five times in Tests – the equal most by any bowler, along with English seamer Jimmy Anderson.

“Virat is one of the best batsmen that I have ever come across. So to be able to take his wicket today was exceptional,” Lyon said after play. “That ball was nothing special.”

The under-rated finger spinner bowled superbly after only coming into the attack in the 22nd over with India cruising at 1/53.

Opening batsman KL Rahul (90) was the only man to offer any resistance for the home team, and he could easily have been caught off Lyon’s bowling when he was on 61, had David Warner not grassed a catch at leg gully.

Lyon eventually removed Rahul, who unleashed a wild stroke, and four tailenders amid a chaotic collapse of 5-15 that ended India’s innings. He will be on a hat-trick when he starts bowling in the second innings.

“I love challenging myself against the best,” Lyon said, revealing he had been ready to come in as nightwatchman had either of Australia’s opening batsmen being dismissed late in the day.

“This is very special … I don’t think it’s really hit me yet. I am very lucky to take eight wickets.”

Lyon has now claimed a record 58 wickets in Border-Gavaskar battles, surpassing Brett Lee (53 wickets). He needs eight more wickets to overtake Richie Benaud’s career haul of 248 wickets.

That would only leave Warne as the sole spinner higher on Australia’s list of most prolific Test bowlers.

Perhaps Lyon does belong in the same conversation as those threatening bowlers of the past. Perhaps Kohli is feeling the heat. And perhaps Australia is just “one or two sessions” away from retaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

But that would be to underestimate the world No.1 Test nation and its ferociously competitive captain.

And it would also discount the fact that Australia may yet have to bat last on this Bangalore pitch.

– with AAP







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