Australia v New Zealand, 1st Test, Brisbane, 4th day November 8, 2015

Lyon hopes to exploit footmarks on fifth day

Nathan Lyon: "I think I've matured a lot since making my debut and having Shane Warne's legacy hanging above me." © Getty Images

For a long while after his Test debut, Nathan Lyon was viewed as a consistent performer with one key question mark still surrounding his game. Could he bowl Australia to victory in a fourth innings? A few opportunities came and went, and were not grabbed - when South Africa held on at Adelaide Oval in 2012, for example. But at the same venue two years later, Lyon proved he could do it.

That was a turning point for Lyon, his seven wickets in the fourth innings against India delivering Australia victory and earning his first - and so far only - Man-of-the-Match performance. It was the first Test of a home summer and David Warner scored a century in each innings; Australia will be hoping the parallels continue on the fifth day at the Gabba, where they need seven New Zealand wickets.

"I think I've matured a lot since making my debut and having Shane Warne's legacy hanging above me," Lyon said after the fourth day at the Gabba. "Saying that, it's a fourth innings and we've got five bowlers out there to take 10 wickets, so we're going to have to bowl in partnerships and it doesn't always rely on one person's shoulders."

That is true, but Lyon showed on the fourth day that he has plenty to offer on a Gabba surface with plenty of bounce. The presence of three left-arm fast bowlers in this match has also offered Lyon the chance to work into some decent footmarks, and on a day five pitch it will be interesting to see how much rip he can get out of those areas when he comes over the wicket.

"With Trent Boult, Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc running down outside that wicket, it's creating a lot of footholes for me to hopefully hit and create a bit of havoc for the right handers," Lyon said.

On the fourth day, he switched between over- and around-the-wicket lines to New Zealand's right-handers, and picked up both of his wickets from over: Martin Guptill drove at one that didn't turn much and was caught behind, and Kane Williamson was lbw to one spinning in. Lyon said he had tried the around-the-wicket line to Williamson because it brought in more modes of dismissal.

"Kane Williamson is an unbelievable bat," Lyon said. "He's got quick hands and he's got quick feet as well, to be able to get deep into his crease and turn it around the corner. That's from over the wicket. Coming around the wicket brings more dismissals in for me personally, to Kane.

"Guptill wasn't really looking to score today. I don't know what he was doing, to be honest. It was chewing up a lot of balls and ... building a fair amount of pressure on Kane. I was lucky enough to take the outside edge after dropping him."

Nicknamed GOAT by his fellow players - an acronym standing for Greatest of All Time, after he overtook Hugh Trumble to be Australia's leading wicket-taker among Test offspinners - Lyon will face the challenge on day five of working against Brendon McCullum, who went to stumps not out on 4. Although a New Zealand win is exceptionally unlikely with 362 runs still needed, if McCullum stays in for a couple of hours, runs could come quickly.

"He's a world-class player," Lyon said. "He's dangerous, but I love challenges and I'm looking forward to it. Bring it on."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale

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