2nd Test, Day 2: Whatever we set, we have just got to make sure it's enough, says Nathan Lyon

February 19, 2023

Before stumps on day two of the match on Saturday, Travis Head made an instant impression as an opener, slamming five fours and a six to be unbeaten on 39, while Marnus Labuschagne hit three boundaries off Ravindra Jadeja to be unconquered on 16 as Australia reached 61/1 in 12 overs at stumps, with a healthy run-rate of 5.08 and lead at 62 runs.

"We need to trust the guys’ methods when they have the support of the whole change room to go out there and play the way they want to play and the way they think they can combat the quality bowling India have. Whatever we set, we have just got to make sure it’s enough."

"I’m not going to give you a number. Whatever we get we have to make sure it’s enough. That’s the mentality we need to do (go with); we need to come here tomorrow (on day three) and be really brave," he said in the post-match press conference.

Lyon also said that Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin are as good as top six batters of a Test team. Powered by Lyon’s 5/60, Australia left India in tatters at 139/7 in 50.5 overs.

But Axar Patel, the left-arm spin all-rounder, slammed 74 off 115 balls, leading yet another lower-order resurgence act for India. He shared an important 114-run partnership off 177 balls with Ravichandran Ashwin, who made 37 off 71 balls, for the eighth wicket to bring India on the threshold of taking a lead, though Australia stopped them one run short.

"They are not lower-order (batters). Let’s get that clear. Axar and Ash could easily bat in the top-six in a few teams in Test cricket around the world in my eyes. They (India) have a very long top order, let’s just say that," he added.

Lyon’s five-fer in New Delhi came after he had an unimpressive 1/126 in the first Test at Nagpur. Co-incidentally, he had taken a seven-fer at the same venue during the 2013/14 series. With not much bounce in Nagpur, Lyon admitted that New Delhi provided him with ample conditions to excel, apart from raising his speed.

"There is (a) lot more bounce in Delhi compared to Nagpur, which I obviously like to exploit. It is no secret that I do like playing cricket here. Bowling around the wicket in this game, I’m still trying to target off stump. That’s my goal."

"If you understand cricket, you will understand what I am trying to do and trying to get them defending because we know how good the Indian batters are. If I can make them defend, hopefully, I’ll create a few chances here and there."

Lyon got all his five wickets from the old pavilion end, apart from finding the right length and rhythm to run through the Indian top-order. Two of his dismissals, of Cheteshwar Pujara and Rohit Sharma, came through the conventional off-break.

"It was just my stock ball to challenge two very good batters. Pujara and I have had unbelievable battles. From my end, I have a lot of respect for him. He can be very proud of the way he’s gone about it in Test cricket."

But Axar and Ashwin’s counterattack meant Lyon couldn’t get beyond five wickets. "It shows that the ball may get a little bit soft after 50 overs or beyond. It takes the pace off the wicket and the spin is not as quick. As bowlers, we have to put the ball in the right areas for a long period of time and try to challenge their defences."

"Obviously very happy with this innings, but I have got an eye on this whole Test. I am focused on what role I have to play in India’s second innings. There’s still a lot of work to do," he added.

Lyon signed off by praising Head for his attacking 39 not out coming as an opener, especially after being a shock omission for Nagpur Test. "I am quite close with Trav (Travis Head), there is no secret with that. I did reach out to him (when Head was not included in the XI in Nagpur). I did see if he was ok. It (getting dropped) can be a challenging time."

"Trav being Trav and what I love about him, he always looks at the positives. He always wants to do the right role for the team in his best way. He was extremely confident coming into this game and that’s the Trav I love. I’m really happy to see him out there competing the way he is at the moment. I thought he was absolutely exceptional."


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