Lyon opens door

Sunday Herald Sun - - Cricket -

THE ner­vous Aus­tralian bat­ting line-up are star­ing down the bar­rel of a fourth-in­nings res­cue mis­sion af­ter a last-gasp ef­fort from spin­ner Nathan Lyon nudged the first Test door open for his team.

Odds for the home side pulling off a re­mark­able win were slashed by half as Lyon fi­nally dis­missed In­dian cap­tain Vi­rat Kohli in the shad­ows of stumps, af­ter 20 overs of try­ing.

In­dia holds the whip hand and the tourist’s mid­dle or­der, in­clud­ing first-in­nings road­block Cheteswhar Pu­jara, stand be­tween the Aussies and a get­table fourth in­nings to­tal. The lead was 166 at stumps, with six wick­ets in hand.

Kohli’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to do what none of the eight pre­vi­ous In­dian cap­tains be­fore him could, and win a se­ries in Aus­tralia, pushed him through an en­thralling bat­tle with Aussie pace ace Josh Ha­zle­wood.

Runs were hard to come by and then Lyon struck as part of a valiant bowl­ing ef­fort to stay in the game.

Cu­ri­ously, Aussie cap­tain Tim Paine kept at­tack­ing weapon Mitch Starc cool for more than two hours af­ter his early spells, and only called on him for two more overs in the fi­nal ses­sion. In­stead Lyon probed away for 18 overs straight, and twice had Pu­jara given out only to lose the toss when the In­dian re­ferred the de­ci­sions. Af­ter a break he got Kohli and Aussie spir­its lifted.

De­spite star­ing down the bar­rel of a nerve-jan­gling run chase, re­cent his­tory sug­gests fourth and fifth day ef­forts on the Ade­laide Oval drop-in pitch are eas­ier now than ever.

In Sh­effield Shield cricket, at least, the past two teams bat­ting last in Ade­laide went well be­yond 300 without be­ing bowled out.

But Test cricket is on an­other level and it would seem this new-look Aussie top or­der will have to muster some­thing ex­traor­di­nary to avoid hand­ing In­dia a 1-0 se­ries lead.

No team has chased down more than 239 bat­ting last to win a Test in Ade­laide since the mid­dle of last cen­tury, and the only suc­cess­ful chase of more than 300 came in 1902.

Paine and com­pany have shown their steel for the fight as re­cently as Oc­to­ber, too.

In the United Arab Emi­rates, Us­man Khawaja bat­ted for 522 min­utes in the desert heat as he and his skip­per pulled their team out of the fire. Aus­tralia sur­vived nearly 140 overs to earn a fa­mous draw.

They will need all that met­tle and more to equal the sec­ond-up ef­fort of the In­di­ans who learned les­sons from day one and em­ployed a “wait first, then hit” men­tal­ity.

Open­ers KL Rahul and Mu­rali Vi­jay scored just eight runs from the first 50 balls of the sec­ond in­nings, started af­ter lunch and a long rain de­lay.

None of those runs came off Ha­zle­wood, who bowled 24 straight dot balls to start, and four of the runs were leg byes.

The run rate hardly lifted when the open­ers left, stuck on just more than 2.5 an over through 60 bowled dur­ing a rain-in­ter­rupted day.

But ev­ery In­dian run without a wicket as the fi­nal ses­sion went on was a small dag­ger to Aus­tralia’s chances. How­ever, the home team ex­ited as any­thing but a lost cause.

Josh Ha­zle­wood cel­e­brates the wicket of Lokesh Rahul, and (clock­wise from top right) Vi­rat Kohli at­tacks, then is dis­missed by Nathan Lyon. Pic­tures: GETTY IM­AGES, AAP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.