Lyon: 'Studied a lot of what Ashwin does well over here'

Nathan Lyon said his plan, on a day when he registered the best figures by a visiting bowler (eight for 50), had merely been to land the ball on the same spot time and again.

Nathan Lyon razed the host's batting line-up, dismissing it for a sub-200 score, and registered the best figures (8/50) for a visiting bowler in India.   -  AP

Nathan Lyon has for long been Australia's best spinner, but he has, it seems, never been good enough. He began his first tour to India, back in 2013, with three for 215 in the first innings in Chennai. He was promptly dropped for the second Test, in favour of Glenn Maxwell and Xavier Doherty. He impressed in the fourth Test in Delhi but months later was left out of the Ashes opener for Ashton Agar. It is a theme his career has followed.

After Saturday's performance, though, most doubters will have been silenced. At least for a while. Lyon's figures of eight for 50 were the best for an overseas bowler in India, beating Lance Klusener's eight for 64 (Kolkata 1996), and the best by an Australian against India, eclipsing Jason Krejza's eight for 215 (Nagpur 2008). He (58) also overtook Brett Lee (53) to become Australia's all-time highest wicket-taker against India.

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"[I had to work for this] a fair bit, if I'm going to be brutally honest," he said after the opening day's play at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here. "After the tour of Sri Lanka, I went home and reflected. I worked very very hard. In the lead up to the BBL games, I was going to games two hours before and bowling in the nets with John Davison (mentor) and Darren Berry (Sydney Sixers assistant coach) on separate occasions. I studied a lot of what Ashwin does very well over here."

Lyon was modest, stating that his plan had merely been to land the ball on the same spot time and again. "I don't know if they're going to spin or go straight. So if I don't know, neither does the batter really," he said. "I'm about doing the basics really well and just keep landing on the same spot. You look at Rangana Herath, one of the best spinners in the world, and what does he do: he hits the same spot over and over again. He said to me after the series in Sri Lanka, 'I don't know if they're going to spin either.' So I'm working on the same plan as Rangana and he's going alright."

Lyon was pleased that he had adapted to the pitch well. "Steve O'Keefe and I had a conversation and said there was a couple jumping out there. I looked at my bowling to see if I can put some over-spin on it and get a couple of balls to jump. Good bounce out there, it's been quite pleasing," he said.

There was nothing special, however, about the ball that got Virat Kohli, Lyon admitted. "He came out (in Pune) and said it was his mistake (to leave a straight delivery alone) and I daresay it was today. That ball was nothing special. To be able to take his wicket was exceptional but we know this is a long series and he's a world-class batter. He is the head of the snake, if you want to put it in Dale Steyn's terms. If you take that one, hopefully the body will fall away."

Only two months ago, there was talk that Lyon would be benched against Pakistan, before injury to O'Keefe saved the off-spinner, who responded in fine fashion. "I'm over the moon with what happened today," he said. "I don't think it's hit me because for the last hour I was padded up as nightwatchman. I've proven to myself that I can compete at this level. I don't have to prove it to anyone else in the world."

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