India v Australia, 4th Test, Delhi, 2nd day March 23, 2013

India scrap to lead despite Lyon five


India 266 for 8 (Vijay 57, Pujara 52, Lyon 5-94) lead Australia 262 (Siddle 51, Ashwin 5-57) by 4 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Loosened up, aggressive, focused and familiar enough with the conditions, Australia are ready to give India a fright at home. The only trouble for the tourists is that the strongest demonstration of their readiness for the task has arrived with the Test series in its death throes. The captain, Michael Clarke, has already flown home.

Defending a middling 262 on a Delhi pitch that was always less than trustworthy, the stand-in leader Shane Watson marshalled his men handily as India slipped to 266 for 8 by the close. He benefited from a fine display by Nathan Lyon, who spun the ball sharply and landed it with greater consistency than he had managed all series. Peter Siddle, James Pattinson and Mitchell Johnson also contributed useful spells, while in the field the tourists were generally alert and often combative.

Fired initially by the refusal of a very adjacent lbw appeal by Lyon against Sachin Tendulkar, the Australians became decidedly feisty during MS Dhoni's evening stay. Having earlier given Virat Kohli a send-off from the team huddle, David Warner took exception when Dhoni ran down the middle of the pitch while taking a run, moving the umpires to ask Watson to calm his opening batsman down.

All this had the hollow ring of a team fighting back well after the final bell had been rung, but there was consolation to be had for Lyon and Watson, both having endured particularly difficult tours. Certainly the decision to leave Lyon out of the Hyderabad match now appears to be the single most baffling piece of selection for the tour. Australia's least effective portfolio was the over rate, which slinked along at little more than 12 overs an hour.

India stuttered mainly because their batsmen did not go on from starts for the first time all series. Cheteshwar Pujara, M Vijay, Tendulkar, Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja all made starts but none went any further than 58, which was the sort of problem much more familiar to Australia over the preceding three Tests.

Australia had commenced with the unfortunate news that Maxwell was still at the team hotel due to stomach trouble, but harboured hopes of stretching the total beyond 300. Siddle's half-century was a just reward for his defiance, but he was not to venture much further, playing inside the line to R Ashwin and losing off stump. Pattinson was last out, a thin edge granting Pragyan Ojha his 100th wicket in Tests.

The Australians had their fourth different new ball pairing of the series, Johnson and Pattinson charging in at the hosts, and after a few promising early deliveries Watson was witness to the familiar sight of Indian batsmen collecting facile runs. Pujara was beaten between bat and pad by one Pattinson delivery that pranced back at him while disturbing the surface, but his response to the next ball, a serene back foot drive, typified the confidence with which the openers played.

If Johnson's off cutter appeared likely to be the cause of some discomfort on the dry, turning pitch, his early use of it was characterised by runs given up via the gloves of Matthew Wade rather than any wickets. It was somewhat surprising that Lyon's entry was delayed until 19 overs had been bowled, more so when he immediately had the ball turning and bouncing while finding his best rhythm of the tour.

The century stand arrived soon after Lyon's introduction, via the unedifying sight of Johnson throwing airily beyond Wade for four overthrows. Having fended off several off breaks that spun back dangerously, Pujara played for turn to a ball tossed up with more over spin and had his off stump tilted back. Lyon went around the wicket to Kohli and celebrated raucously when he pinned the batsman in front with a ball very similar to that with which he could easily have also dismissed Tendulkar.

On resumption after tea Siddle gave up 10 runs to suggest India might zip clear, but he made amends with a swift bouncer that surprised Vijay and resulted in a simple chance to Wade off the glove. Ajinkya Rahane's first Test innings was nervy and brief, ending with a Lyon off break gloved straight to leg slip, and Dhoni had barely begun his customary counterattack when Tendulkar was again pinned in front by Lyon, and this time given out.

Dhoni's stay did not extend far beyond his exchange with Warner, a half-hearted pull shot picking out Watson at a square midwicket, and Jadeja failed to offer a shot to a delivery that appeared bound to flick off stump. It had been bowled by Maxwell, recovered from his bout of gastro.

India inched ahead, but Watson remained eager for wickets. Following a brief rest, Watson swung Lyon around to the other end for the final over, and he completed the day's Australian rehabilitation by pinning Ashwin for his deserved fifth. If only it wasn't the fourth Test.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Andrew on March 24, 2013, 4:16 GMT

    As I type, Lyon has just cleaned up the tail (7 for). I would be VERY tempted to open the batting with Maxwell & see if he can cash in on the new ball. Maybe get a quickfire 30+, which could really put India on the back foot. Oz need a minimum 200 to defend, prefer 250, anything over 150 should make it a cracker of a match. Hopefully NO MORE 100 RUN STANDS for the 1st or 2nd (or any) wicket PLEASE!!!!!!

  • mukesh on March 24, 2013, 4:09 GMT

    @see the obvious : you have a problem with the way rahane got out ! come on man , give the guy a break , he was benched for so long and finally go ta chance to play that too on such a difficult wicket , he is understandably nervous. but i guess you don't find anything wrong with sachin surviving a 'plumb as it gets' lbw call when he was on 1 run !! also why is that everyone else in batting order can change their batting position for the team but not sachin ?? may be you should see the obvious as the name suggests :)

  • vishwas on March 24, 2013, 3:40 GMT

    it will be very interesting to see the battle between kohli and warner, but unfortunately it wont last long as warner wont last long...... he is just sooooo frustrated this warner..... best view of this series is the scene that warner showing his frustration which he had kept in all the series.....

  • Dummy4 on March 24, 2013, 2:50 GMT

    Guys have you noticed how the highlights anchor of Willow TV for the India vs Australia announces all events mainly Australian wickets before they happen. I just don't understand why he does this. It robs the highlights of the main excitement of wickets. Reminds me of the times when Dr. Narottam Puri used to start highlights by telling everything before hand. We used to scramble to mute the TV till he was done. God help us by drilling some sense into this man. I am sure he means well and is trying his best. But, frankly the quality is atrocious. Wish he just kept quiet. We can hear the regular commentators and figure out thing quite well without his incessant monologue.

  • Dummy4 on March 24, 2013, 2:42 GMT

    The big worry about the absence of some referral system is that players' reputation could often influence the umpires. Normal reviews are enough to eliminate howlers. Seems like somebody just fears them. And I wish disciplinarians showed much more anxiety about this than all that homework and stuff!

  • Shibu on March 24, 2013, 2:29 GMT

    India have a serious problem knocking over the tail enders. More than once the Australian tail have put 100+ runs in the series. Here the the last 3 put 126 runs together and that could well make a difference.

  • raj on March 24, 2013, 2:09 GMT

    This Test will be decided by which team has more fight in them - India and Aus are both rebuilding their teams. In bygone years India has always lacked the fight but in recent times that has changed somewhat (not withstanding the series in Aus and Eng). This match will also see one of these teams grow an extra leg and kick on whereas the losing team will be back to soul-searching. It is essential that B Kumar, Ishant & Ojha get their heads down and give India a decent lead - a match deciding one. By this, I don't mean they should go into a shell and get in a defence mode - they need to attack in a controlled manner. If the three can contribute 15 runs each then that's GAME INDIA!!!

  • Rajaram on March 24, 2013, 2:02 GMT

    Umpire Aleem Dar warns Perer Siddle for running on the pitch, but does not warn Dhoni - who ran down the pitch - twice. Sic.

  • KISH on March 24, 2013, 2:01 GMT

    EVERYBODY who has a thought on DRS, please read this and asnwer this. I have been BIG supporter of DRS and was blaming India at every opportunity. However, I have changed my mind. Because, in the recently concluded ODI series between Australia and West Indies, West Indies batsman Thomas was given NOT OUT by the onfield umpire for a caught behind appeal from the aussies. Aussies referred this to the third umpire. Video replays, hot spots and snicko didn't show any signs of a knick. But, the third umpire OVERTURNED THE ORIGINAL UMPIRE'S DECISION and gave it OUT. If this is how the DRS is going to be used, I WILL NEVER SUPPORT DRS.

  • Lewis on March 24, 2013, 1:44 GMT

    The coach should not have to request, and set deadlines, for players input on how to make the team better. If the players genuinely cared about the teams performance then that info on how to improve would come forward voluntarily. You can't MAKE players give input into team performance. The players have to WANT to give input.For mine, this is the number one indicator of "team culture". If you have to force individuals to think about team issues then you have lost it. Just like you cant force players to hang around in the dressing sheds after a game (the ultimate team meeting), they have to want to be there.Watson deserves more credit, he is our vice captain. Khawaja the poor bugger can never get a go and hopefully he gets one soon and Johnson deserved a game as well on a fast Mohali pitch. Blaming the 4 players is not right, the real issue that has come to the surface is how out of touch the management were with the players.