Nathan Lyon: This is the closest Australian team I’ve been a part of

The off-spinner is excited to take on the Indian batsmen in the four-Test series that begins in Adelaide next week.

Australian off-spinner Nathan Lyon is 10 short of getting to 400 Test wickets.   -  GETTY IMAGES

The current Australian team is the “closest” Nathan Lyon has been a part of, the off-spinner announced at a virtual press conference on Sunday as he looked ahead to the four-Test series against India.

Lyon said the Australian team was motivated to do well against India after having been defeated the last time the two sides met on Australian soil, in 2018-19, and that it was in much better shape than it was then.

“We’ve got a few things lined up which is exciting, but there’s a great vibe within the Australian cricket team at the moment. I think we’re in a much better place than we were a year or two years ago. This is probably the tightest Australian team I’ve ever been a part of,” Lyon said.

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‘Best bowling attack’ 

Lyon looked forward to bowling against the Indian batsmen in the four-Test series, a series he terms as a contest between evenly matched sides.

“We have a very good bowling unit; in my eyes, we have the best bowling attack in the world, so we’re just going to have to make sure that we’re doing our job, challenging the Indians for a long period. It’s not about personal success for me or success against India. It’s about playing my role and going out there and just take 20 wickets in a Test match,” he said.

Lyon is 10 short of getting to 400 Test wickets. When he gets there, he will be the second Australian spinner – after Shane Warne – and the first off-spinner from his country to scale that peak.

“It’s pretty amazing to think where I started to where I’m at at the present, but it’s pretty exciting. Hopefully, I’d be able to create a few chances and get closer to the 400 mark,” he said.

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The right-hander challenge 

Lyon is known to be more successful bowling at left-handers as compared to right-handers, but the fact that the Indian line-up was filled with right-handers doesn’t bother him. Lyon roughly outlined his game-plan against the Indian batsmen.

“I’ve been working quite hard at bowling at right-handers. There’s so many of them in world cricket; I’m just looking to try to compete against both edges, and try and bring both edges into play, with catchers around the bat. It’s going to be a big challenge but very lucky that Mitchell Starc is going to join the squad on Monday and I love his footmarks. It should be good fun,” he said.

Lyon was excited at having left-arm quick Starc join the Australian squad during its training session in Adelaide on Monday.

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“I talk to him every day. He’s one of my best mates, so forever talking to him. Probably annoying him, to be honest, but he’s pretty pumped, he’s pretty excited. We’re looking forward to having him around the squad; firstly, the quality of bloke he is but also the quality of cricket that he brings to the table,” he said.

Lyon backed Starc to come good in the Adelaide Test.

“Not worried about Mitch at all. He said he bowled with the pink ball the other day, in Sydney nets before anyone got there, and he said where he left off with the pink ball. That’s exciting; we all know how good he is with the pink ball. He is more than comfortable, more than confident, and he’s got all our support as well,” he said.

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‘World-class’ training 

Heading into the day-night Test, which begins on December 17, Australia does have some injury concerns and a selection headache, with Joe Burns out of form and David Warner and Will Pucovski ruled out due to injury. Lyon dismissed suggestions the Australian team was unsettled due to it.

“We’ve been very fortunate to train in the middle of the Adelaide Oval; this is my 10th year of international cricket, I’ve never had the privilege to play on the best oval, or train on the best oval before a Test match. Our training has been world class, our preparation is going exactly the way we want it to. Australia ‘A’ guys, those part of the Test squad, they’ll join up with us [on Monday],” Lyon said.

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Lyon said he wasn’t going to approach his bowling differently just because he was playing India.

“I don’t approach my bowling differently just because we’re playing against India. Especially over the last five years, my bowling has probably gone to a new level. I’m very confident with where my bowling’s at at the moment. They’re a very attacking side, they’re always looking to attack us which is fantastic. I love that challenge, but to be honest, it’s more about me playing more of a role within the Australian cricket team and doing what Tim Paine has asked me to do. It’s about doing one per cent things and not worrying too far about what India is doing. We know the quality of cricketers they have in their squad, and we know how they come out and play their cricket.”

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