Lyon’s record eight rips India apart

Nathan Lyon ruined the host’s dream of posting a big score after opting to bat on winning the toss. India was bundled out for 189 in its first innings with K.L. Rahul (90, 205b, 9x4) playing the lone hand.

Nathan Lyon, goes back to the pavilion after taking eight wickets against India and Australia at M. Chinnaswamy stadium in Bengaluru.   -  K. Bhagya Prakash

Spin was expected to weave a fatal web in the current series. It is ironical that instead of the Indian tweakers being the prime agents for spreading mayhem in the minds of the visiting batsmen, so far it is the Australians who have stayed ahead.


If Steve O’Keefe ambushed Virat Kohli’s men in the first Test at Pune, it was Nathan Lyon’s turn to wreak havoc at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Saturday. The off-spinner’s career-best of eight for 50 undid India’s plans on the opening day of the second Test. (READ: Rahul: 'Ashwin and Jadeja can be equally effective')

Lyon ruined the host’s dream of posting a big score after opting to bat on winning the toss. India was bundled out for 189 in its first innings with K.L. Rahul (90, 205b, 9x4) playing the lone hand. The pitch assisted spin, there was appreciable turn, the odd variable bounce especially at the Northern End and yet it wasn’t a diabolical surface. (READ: Lyon: 'Studied a lot of what Ashwin does well over here')

At close of play, Australia scored 40 for no loss. Fortune too favoured the visitor as Ajinkya Rahane dropped a tough catch off David Warner.

The theme of Australian dominance seemed improbable in the morning as the fans trooped into the venue. India fielded Abhinav Mukund ahead of an injured Murali Vijay (shoulder niggle) and Karun Nair was preferred over Jayant Yadav.

Mukund’s forgettable comeback

All seemed well as Rahul drove the first ball from Mitchell Starc and again square-drove for four. If Rahul stayed busy, Abhinav was tentative. It was understandable. The southpaw last played for India in a Test against England at Nottingham in 2011.

The comeback, however, wasn’t productive. Abhinav got rapped on the pads by Starc and was dismissed for a duck in the third over. Rahul watched from the non-striker’s end and it was a fate he was resigned to, through the day as his partners wavered between fragile tenures and stints that never flowered beyond a cameo.

Read: Succumbing to spin

Briefly, Rahul found an ally in Cheteshwar Pujara. The latter wasn’t fluent but they shared a 61-run second-wicket partnership which proved to be the highest alliance in the Indian innings.

O’Keefe was pressed into service from the eighth over and operating from the Pavilion End, the left-arm spinner lured Rahul into an uppish drive. On 30 then, Rahul saw Peter Handscomb drop him at short cover. If India yearned for a hearty lunch, it got queasy at 72 for two as Pujara edged Lyon to short-leg.

Kohli gets it wrong

Post-lunch, despite the crowd encouraging Kohli, it was time for Lyon to exert his control. He bowled tight lines, exploited the rough created by Starc and unsettled the batsmen. Kohli punched Starc for four but after that lone display of class, offered his pad to Lyon, pressed for a futile review and trudged back.

Rahul enjoyed another reprieve when he was dropped on 61 by Warner at leg-slip with Lyon being the aggrieved bowler. Meanwhile Rahul’s latest partner Ajinkya Rahane failed to walk the tight-rope between aggression and defence and was stumped off Lyon.

Next-man Karun Nair, emboldened by his home ground and the memory of his triple ton against England at Chennai, used his feet and swept. Just as the two Bengalureans — Rahul and Karun — struck a tandem, the latter succumbed to O’Keefe. The rest failed and a stranded Rahul hampered by a sore shoulder, spooned a catch off Lyon.

It is India’s turn to hope that Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja will emulate Lyon and O’Keefe. It is a benchmark none had forecast when the Australians arrived in Mumbai. Such are the game’s vagaries and it doesn’t help that India’s batting has inexplicably lost its way against spin.

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