Lyon hoping Australia can repeat the 2022 heroics in Pakistan
India are 2-1 up in the series and the pitch is playing well after three days in the final Test, but the off-spinner believes things can change dramatically late and ensure a result
Australia posted a total of 480 runs in the first innings. India had replied with 289/3 in 99 overs at the end of the third day’s play in the Ahmedabad Test. With two days left and the pitch still good for batting, the likely outcome to the game is a draw. India will then take the series 2-1.
Australia though are not giving up hope of forcing a win and squaring the series. They are seeking inspiration from their effort against Pakistan in March last year, when in similar conditions at Lahore they managed to convert what looked like a dead game into victory.
In the third Test of that series, Australia needed five wickets at the start of the final session with Pakistan 195/5 after 80 overs. Australia took the last wicket in the 92nd over to clinch a famous series win.
Their ace spinner, Nathan Lyon, who claimed five wickets in that innings, is hoping for an encore at Motera.
“These are the type of Tests that are won in the last half an hour of day five, and these are the type of Test matches you want to be a part of. The hard grind with a potential great reward at the end of it. They’re challenging, but we’re all up for a challenge; and it’s a proper grind, good Test cricket,” Lyon said after play when reminded of the Pakistan win.
“I think it's pretty even (the game). We know in this part of the world games can speed up quite quickly, so it’s about being patient for long periods of time and not chasing the game,” he said.
For Lyon, the flat pitch at the Narendra Modi Stadium is similar the ones they encountered in Pakistan where all three Tests were high-scoring affairs. Hence, when Shubman Gill and Virat Kohli got going, the Australia bowlers employed similar tactics.
“We knew it was a grinding day, it is a very similar wicket to what we faced in Pakistan 12 months ago, so for the boys to stick at the plans and shut down the scoring, when bowling to guys like Gill and Virat on surfaces like this, it can be challenging.”
Though Lyon has taken just one wicket for 74 runs in 34 overs, he was happy with his rhythm. “I feel like I bowled better today than I did in Indore, it just comes down to doing your basics well enough for long enough.”
The seasoned spinner took the prized scalp of centurion Gill. Their battle made for great watching as Lyon constantly tested the opener’s defence, eventually nailing him leg before as Gill played back to a sharp off-break.
Describing Gill as a special player, Lyon said: "The way Shubman played was exceptional. His defence was there but he was also quite proactive and wanted to look to score. That one (wicket ball) I got him on was probably a little bit flatter, a little bit faster than what he was expecting. So, a decent ball on my behalf, but I thought the way he went about it was pretty special. His second Test hundred and he looked quite comfortable and confident with the way he was going about it. He’s definitely a special player.”