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Analysis

Lyon banks on dad's wisdom and smart reviews to overcome Indore tussle

It was a tricky day with many close calls testing both him and the umpire, but Lyon thrived on day two

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
02-Mar-2023
Nathan Lyon and Joel Wilson hadn't seen each other for a little while.
This game in Indore is the first time the pair have crossed paths since the famous Headingley Test of 2019 when Wilson gave Ben Stokes not out to a sweep that replays showed was taking leg stump with England needing two runs to win. Australia had no reviews left.
Australia still have their problems with reviews - although so have India in this match - but Lyon will have been grateful they had plenty in the bank on the second day at Holkar Stadium.
Twice he roared appeals for lbw, down on his knees, accompanied by the phalanx of close catchers. The first against Ravindra Jadeja and the second against R Ashwin. On the latter occasion, he had barely stopped imploring when he signalled for the review himself, before Steven Smith made it official.
The DRS has been busy in this Test, although it should be said that umpiring in conditions such as these - much like batting - is a difficult task. Everything is simpler with replays, although it wasn't a great look for Wilson.
On both occasions, the not-out decisions were reversed. The Ashwin scalp gave Lyon his second five-wicket of the series and his 23rd overall in Tests. It also gave him 50 wickets in India, becoming just the second Australian bowler after Richie Benaud to reach that mark.
Having taken 15 wickets at 37.33 on his first tour of India in 2013, Lyon has now bagged 38 wickets at 21.60 in the last two trips. And this time, he will likely have bowled Australia to victory, unless a remarkable game has one more epic twist as they chase 76 on the third day.
"It's up there [among my best days], there's no point lying about it," he said. "[But] I'm just really proud of the way we've gone about it. Personal success is great to have but after Delhi, we had a couple of really good days off as a team, and really good conversations at training. Certainly, it's up there as one of my career highlights. But I'm more proud of our group."
In Nagpur, he bowled better than his figures would suggest. Since then, like the best players tend to do, he has come to the fore. He bowled Australia into a position of strength in Delhi which they couldn't take advantage of and in Indore, he has made the most of the conditions on offer.
Dealing with the pressure of bowling to win matches in conditions or scenarios where a spinner is expected to dominate has, perhaps unsurprisingly, come more easily to Lyon as his career has developed, although it was back in 2012 that his dad offered some wise words.
"It's been an interesting one," he said. "I think at the start of my career, I probably felt more the weight of trying to win games in the last couple of innings. But it was actually my dad who sat me down and said 'there are three or four other bowlers who you're able to bowl with in partnerships and if you do your role.
"'Some days, you're going to have success and some days, your mates are going to have success, and that's more important that you're able to identify that. When it's your time, grab it and run with both hands.'
"So it was my dad who just simplified it for me and made sure I wasn't overcomplicating things and putting too much pressure on myself. They can be high-pressure environments, and if we can stay nice and calm and collected, enjoy the battle, enjoy the contest and hopefully some days you'll have success."
On this tour, especially in the last two Tests, he has beaten batters on both edges, primarily operating from round the wicket to keep all modes of dismissal in play. After Shubman Gill's wild hoick in the first over after lunch, he slid one into Rohit Sharma's pads. Later on, sandwiched between the reviewed lbws, he pushed one past the outside edge of KS Bharat to take off stump.
But he wasn't able to get past Cheteshwar Pujara who played a masterful innings. That was until a moment of brilliance of Smith - dodgy back and all - who pulled off a spectacular catch at leg slip, something they had been bowling for, when Pujara flicked at a delivery outside leg stump. It was most likely a match-winning moment because Pujara could have given Australia a tricky target.
Meanwhile, Nathan and Joel weren't quite done, either. On this occasion, Lyon got the decision on-field when Wilson gave Umesh Yadav lbw only for the review to show that this time the ball was turning past leg stump. Lyon and Wilson shared a few words, all in good spirit.
And it didn't matter much in the end, except to keep the spotlight on Wilson, because Umesh picked out deep midwicket next ball. A wild heave from Mohammed Siraj and Lyon had an eight-wicket haul in India for the second time. Unlike in Bengaluru in 2017, he should be able to take on his other role of singing the team song in victory.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo