Lyon: 'I have been studying Ashwin a lot'

"R. Ashwin is a world-class spinner and the best at the moment in the world. I have been studying him a lot," said off-spinner Nathan Lyon ahead of the first Border-Gavaskar Trophy Test in Pune.

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Although Lyon was collared by Shreyas Iyer and Co. last week, he will be the one to watch out from Australia if the pitch assists spin.   -  PTI

Nathan Lyon is among the Australian 17 off-spinners, who have plied his art in India. And, he’s second among the highest wicket-takers after Ashley Mallett with 15 scalps at 37.33 in three Test matches.

Mallett (28 wickets at 19.11 in 5 Tests) played the big part in Bill Lawry’s team that beat India 3-1 in the 1969 series. Lyon carries the big responsibility of keeping his side in the fray by checking the flow of runs and taking wickets and thus lessen the burden on Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood.

In the only warm up game against India ‘A’, Lyon was taken apart by Shreyas Iyer and Krishnappa Gowtham at the Cricket Club of India (CCI), but the featherbed of a pitch prepared for a three-day match, none of the spinners could get purchase. Nonetheless, Lyon would be the man to watch should the pitch prepared for the four Test series throw the lightest hints of turn.

At the outset Lyon said: “There is going to be a different challenge lying ahead for us. We have a really good squad. We trained really well; scuffed up the wicket (at Dubai) to try and replicate what we will get here. Going to reverse, the big quicks are going to play a role; .it would be a good challenge for the whole team. As a bowling unit with big quickies, we have to take 20 wickets. If you take 20 wickets, then you are doing the right thing.’’

Lyon has seen a lot of R. Ashwin in action this season. “I have been watching a lot of footage of Ashwin, the way he goes about it, his different release points. He is a world-class spinner and the best at the moment in the world. I have been studying him a lot. There are a few things as spinners in the Australian team we have certainly spoken about. Hopefully we can put them in practice and hit a few pads. There are a few changes, but I am not going to change my whole action for this tour. I am aware you need to change a few things here and there. But it’s a game of cricket. We would be playing on the same wicket as they are. So there can be no excuses…’’

Lyon and left arm spinner Stephen O’Keefe play a lot together and hence know each other very well. “I am very lucky. I am a good mate with Steve O’Keefe. We play for Sydney Sixers and New South Wales as well. We played the last Test in Sydney against Pakistan. We bowled well together. He is a totally different to what I am. We complement each other well. I am looking forward to bowling with him.’’