With India cruising at one stage on the second day of the Dharamsala Test, Australia were in a spot of bother. Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane were looking well set and had taken India to 153 for 2 at the tea-break.
But the visitors, led by their spin spearhead Nathan Lyon, staged a remarkable comeback and reduced India to 221 for 6 to leave the fourth and final Test evenly poised. Wriddhiman Saha and Ravindra Jadeja helped the hosts to close the day on 248 for 6 but the match can turn on its head if the Australian team make light work of India’s lower-order on the third day.
The pitch was offering ample bounce and Lyon fully exploited the conditions, taking four wickets in the tea session to derail India’s innings. His spell against Rahane was the most impressive as he mixed his deliveries smartly- quicker, straighter, looping deliveries before having his man with a fuller and bouncy delivery.
Speaking about his tactic against the India skipper, Nathan, in the post-day conference, said:
“It was a bit of a tactic. If you looked at the way the Indians have been playing me, especially Ajinkya, he has been sweeping me a lot. My plan was to come over the wicket and try and get him not to sweep me so that I can I can bring my stock ball to be more effective. It worked well. I spoke to Steve Smith about that at tea and was happy with the way it came out in the end.”
Lyon further expressed his delight over team’s comeback in the match and the overall performance in the series.
“I reckon it is an unbelievable feeling to be pretty evenly poised after day two. I know we probably left a few run out there but to have India 240 for 6 odd after a pretty good day in the field, I am quite happy to be honest. Coming over here, everyone wrote us off and to be in this position in the last Test, one-all and pressure slightly on India is fantastic,” he said.
“As the day progressed, it started to show a little bit more variations with bounce and spin, but I don’t think it has changed too much. As Australian bowlers, I was pretty proud of all of us out there. It’s hard work playing cricket over here but I thought the way we went about it and bowled well in partnerships and tried to dot them up and tried to build pressure on India was fantastic,” he added.
Lyon said that the bounce on the pitch made him feel at home.
“After bowling a couple of overs before lunch, I sat down and thought about what it (pitch) is similar to and it was closer to a home wicket where I can try and generate the bounce. Bounce is my biggest weapon by virtue of which I am getting guys caught at bat-pad and slips.
“I went back to knowing how I bowl, which is probably the best way. Just backing my skill and enjoy the challenge of playing the best side in the world in their home conditions,” he said.
He also rated the performance of his fast-bowlers- Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins- as world class. Both the pacers kept the Indian batsmen under check throughout the day with some disciplined bowling. While Cummins tested the Indian batsmen with some short stuff Hazlewood troubled them with a tight line just outside the off stump.
“I think he really showed he is world-class. I think Josh Hazlewood has been the same. There hasn’t been much life for the big quicks but the way Josh and Patty (Cummins) went about it has been exceptional. It shows the class of those two individuals. They work really well together and it’s great signs for Australian cricket. It’s exciting to see Patty Cummins back and bowling fast.”
“Hopefully, it’s going to be a massive challenge for them, but that really depends on how long we bat for and how many runs we can set them. But whatever we set India, that’s going to have to be enough for us. We believe we’re good enough. It’s going to be good fun and a good challenge for us,” he concluded.