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Lyon's persistence leaves only Warne ahead

Nathan Lyon pushed his tally in Tests to 250 Getty Images

Upon winning the lbw verdict that pulled him into the 250-wicket zone, Nathan Lyon paused briefly on his haunches before arising as Australia's second most prolific spin bowler after Shane Warne.

If he looked only mildly pleased at the milestone, it said more for a day of hard work and perseverance than anything else. A brief, unsuccessful stay as nightwatchman would follow for Lyon, a man who has always stated his willingness to do any job for the team that anointed him custodian of its celebratory chant. Though by no means as freakish as Warne nor an all-round talent in the class of Richie Benaud, the bowler-batsman-captain whose 248-wicket tally he passed on day one in Dhaka, Lyon never gives anything less than his most unsparing effort. In the cooler light of the post-play review, Lyon was rightly proud.

"I'll tell you here right now, I'm never taking over Shane Warne," Lyon said. "I've always said that I'm not about personal success but I woke up to a message from my mum and dad. They said go out and do us proud. You get those types of messages and you reflect on your career and where you stand in the game - it's pretty special.

"Richie Benaud was an unbelievable legend of Australian cricket and cricket in general. To overtake him in the wickets column is something pretty special. I hold it pretty close to my heart. I've got some very good mates in this change room that I think are great, and no doubt when I get back home after this series, I'll sit down with my family and have a drink and celebrate that personal goal but let's just see how this Test match goes first."

On a used, dry and occasionally spiteful surface, Lyon had been bowling in the seventh over of the match. But any thoughts of a quick run through Bangladesh's middle order were assuaged when Tamim Iqbal sallied forth to hammer Lyon inside out over the cover boundary - an audacious shot to play at 18 for 3. From there, Lyon was frustrated for much of the afternoon by Tamim's boldness and Shakib-al-Hasan's more considered approach to spin.

That the captain Steve Smith was required to call upon Glenn Maxwell for the delivery that broke the stand will not have sat well with Lyon. Not because he dislikes Maxwell or his bowling, but because Lyon has long since his 2011 debut regarded himself as a bowler capable of taking the key wicket to change a day's flow. Having done so numerous times in India earlier this year in what was perhaps the best series of his career to date, Lyon would have expected to break the stand.

"I think the two guys batted very brave," Lyon said. "They took the game on, which you have to do in these type of conditions. I think on this wicket if you bat well in partnerships and bat together, you can score runs. I'm not going to sit here and deny them credit. They're two good players, they played some incredible shots out there and took the game on. Hats off to them. It's now our opportunity to take the game on in our first innings and see where we get to.

"Your spinners have to bowl well and bowl well in partnerships and be consistent. That's what myself and Ashton and Glenn Maxwell are trying to do, be as consistent as possible and challenge Bangladesh's defence, and that's going to be a big thing. Personally I felt that they were uncomfortably trying to defend me and they took the game on, and hats off to them, they were playing some brave and decent cricket."

Instead Lyon returned to find Tamim already defeated by a Maxwell ball that stopped and bounced, and by the time he reached the sixth ball of his 18th over, he was nursing the unflattering figures of 0 for 59. It was here that Lyon's day turned, with a prancing delivery that Shakib could only manage to guide airily into Smith's safe hands at slip. Next an artful change of pace and a little extra bounce had Mehidy Hasan given out caught at short leg, though replays showed the ball had not in fact touched the glove.

Lyon, though, was not fussed about this modicum of fortune, much as he has uncomplainingly forged on through spells out of the Test team, a long-time absence from the limited overs set-up and wide variations in the quality of Australian wicketkeeping at the other end of the pitch. Through it all, he has steadily learned and added to his repertoire, most pointedly developing after a poor tour of Sri Lanka in 2016 to excel in India and so set the scene for his Dhaka milestone. The 250th wicket, a skidder that trapped Taijul Islam, demonstrated one of the ways in which Lyon has grown.

All those episodes have, in turn, served as lessons for Ashton Agar, playing his third Test match and first alongside Lyon, after briefly deposing him in 2013 as a mussy-haired teenager. With four years of first-class cricket now behind him, Agar has returned at 23, the same age Lyon was when he made his debut, and the older man was happy to talk in terms of guidance.

"I think we can learn as a partnership from our first innings going forward," Lyon said. "To be honest, I'm pretty happy, that's a personal best for Ashton Agar, taking three wickets. I thought when he bowled - I'm sure he wanted to bowl more overs as well - when he bowled, he bowled with nice rhythm. Sitting with him and having a chat before, he's pretty happy with where he's sitting. I'm pretty happy with bowling in a partnership with him."

For a considerable time it seemed difficult to know what to expect of an Australian spin bowler following after Warne, other than the impossible. Now the way ahead is far clearer, for Lyon has shown what can be done.