Off-spin­ner Lyon takes five to se­cure back-to-back vic­to­ries for hosts

Muscat Daily - - FRONT PAGE -


Ade­laide, Aus­tralia - There was re­sis­tance, as there had been be­fore, but it came when the game was so far be­yond sav­ing it seemed fu­tile. Pak­istan went right through to the fi­nal ses­sion be­fore Aus­tralia fi­nally wore it down and suc­cumbed to an­other con­vinc­ing in­nings de­feat on Mon­day. A few pos­i­tives aside, this re­ally has been a bleak se­ries for the vis­i­tors.

Nathan Lyon (five for 69) en­joyed a bit of per­sonal glory, com­plet­ing his first five-wicket haul against Pak­istan. It will do his con­fi­dence much good, given the off-spin­ner's rather or­di­nary num­bers against this par­tic­u­lar op­po­si­tion, and in a con­test where ev­ery­one of Aus­tralia's bowlers en­joyed great suc­cess, it couldn't have hoped for a bet­ter launch pad to the three-match se­ries against New Zealand later this month.

Shan Ma­sood and Asad Shafiq be­gan the day sim­ply hop­ing to take the Test as deep as was pos­si­ble. How­ever, the strug­gles of Pak­istan in the evening ses­sion came to the fore. It was a sim­i­lar pat­tern as the first in­nings, where the night ses­sion saw Pak­istan lose more than half its side be­fore the Yasir Shah and Babar Azam rear­guard.

But just when Ma­sood and Shafiq part­ner­ship moved past hun­dred and both men brought up their half-cen­turies came their dis­missals. The ex­ter­mi­na­tion be­gan when Ma­sood danced down to Lyon and, fail­ing to get to the pitch of the de­liv­ery, spooned the sim­plest chance to mid-off and Shafiq flicked a catch to leg slip off Lyon where a fielder had been ex­clu­sively placed for that shot and one who was rather hard to miss.

Mo­ham­mad Rizwan and Iftikhar Ahmed be­gan to scram­ble to­gether an­other part­ner­ship and the lead whit­tled down to dou­ble fig­ures. Lyon con­tin­ued to plug away, bowl­ing bet­ter than he's ever done against Pak­istan. When some ex­tra bounce rapped Ahmed on the gloves and Mar­nus Labuschagn­e - fi­nally - held on to one at short-leg, the Aus­tralian kit­man could have prob­a­bly put his feet up.

The fin­ish, there on­wards, was at least en­ter­tain­ingly Pak­istani. Yasir Shah was trapped in front, so plumb that even if it was play­ing with just mid­dle stump, it still wouldn't be worth a re­view.

Yasir, how­ever, had a cen­tury un­der his belt and felt it was worth re­view­ing, if only to spend a few ex­tra mo­ments out in the mid­dle. Later, when Rizwan tried to farm the strike and en­sure they got through to the din­ner break without any fur­ther dam­age, Sha­heen Afridi de­cided to lash out at Lyon, sky­ing the ball in­stead and giv­ing the off-spin­ner his fifth.

The best bit of comedy was still to fol­low. Muham­mad Musa drove one to mid-on and, for some rea­son, Mo­ham­mad Ab­bas be­lieved it to be a cue for a sin­gle. By the time he would re­alise it was any­thing but, Pat Cum­mins was al­ready tak­ing aim. And just like Cum­mins so of­ten does, he hit the stumps.

In Pak­istan, how­ever, the joke is un­likely to be much ap­pre­ci­ated. While Aus­tralia steel it­self for a se­ries against New Zealand likely to test it more than this one has, Pak­istan will have to re­group quickly ahead of a two-match home se­ries against Sri Lanka. What might have oth­er­wise been a cel­e­bra­tion of cricket com­ing home has be­come very se­ri­ous busi­ness.

Nathan Lyon

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