The last time Australia toured India, in 2013, off-spinner Nathan Lyon ended the series with 15 wickets, emerging the most successful bowler for the visitors. However, Ravichandran Ashwin, his counterpart in the opposition camp, had 29 to his name as India blanked Australia 4-0.
Four years on, Lyon has decided to study Ashwin’s bowling to get better results and help Australia end their run of nine consecutive Test defeats in Asia. “I’ve watched a lot of Ashwin… His different release points and… There are a few things we as spinners of the Australian team have sat down and spoken about,” the 29-year-old bowler said at a media interaction on Tuesday.
“I’ve spent a lot of time studying how he goes about it, so hopefully I can keep learning off him and watch him closely and try and put a few things into place.”
BENAUD’S FEATS IN INDIA
Nathan Lyon, who has taken 228 wickets, needs just 21 wickets to go past Richie Benaud’s tally of 248 Test wickets. Benaud, who was a leg spinner, is only the eighth most successful Aussie bowler, but all bowlers ahead of him are pacers barring Shane Warne, who is perched on top with 708 wickets. Lyon is currently the 11th best Australian bowler.
However, Lyon will be inspired by Benaud’s success in India, helping Australia win on the 1956 and 1959-60 tours. He took 23 wickets at 16.86 on his first visit and 29 at 19.58 in the next series.
Lyon bowled decent spells in the warm-up game at the Brabourne Stadium before India A batsman Shreyas Iyer took charge, scoring a brilliant double hundred. He said he has changed his action a bit to suit bowling conditions in the sub-continent, but didn’t want to reveal them.
LYON PLAYS MENTOR
“I’m enjoying the responsibility. Our job is to bowl together and put pressure. I’m looking at this as a good opportunity to pass on my knowledge to some of the younger spinners who haven’t toured here before. I hope we can put into effect what we learnt here four years ago,” he said.
While Australia have always termed their clashes against India as the most challenging, top-order batsmen Usman Khawaja and Matt Renshaw both seemed to struggle against local bowler in the nets. Khawaja missed quite a few that drifted on to the fourth-fifth stump while Renshaw’s sweeps didn’t quite come off the middle of the bat.
However, there was good news for the pacers as curator Pandurang Salgaonkar said the pitch will have good bounce and the balls should ‘fly’ past the stumps. “I wouldn’t say this will be a rank turner. The pitch won’t crumble and spin is likely to get generated off wear and tear after the second day. It depends on the bowler’s ability to generate turn on the pitch. I expect the game to go on till the fifth day,” he said.
Lyon brushed aside claims of a few former India players, who have predicted a thumping win in the series for the hosts. “We’re not bothered about what everyone believes and thinks about this team. We believe we’ve got a strong squad and with David Warner as vice-captain and Steve Smith as captain, we’ve got a very talented squad. We know it’s going to be hard work and we’re up for the challenge. We are in their backyard and we don’t expect fast wickets and such things. They’re the world’s No 1 side for a reason and we’re looking forward to it.”