Boxing Day Test: Nathan Lyon has to be tamed by Virat Kohli and Co

Updated: Dec 26, 2018, 08:20 IST | Gaurav Joshi

Indian batsmen will do well to employ sweep and cut shots while tackling Aussie offie

Nathan Lyon
Nathan Lyon

On a bright Christmas Day here, the first steps Indian assistant coach Sanjay Bangar took at training yesterday were directed towards a spot outside the right-hander's off stump. The former all-rounder then stood on a length that is ideal for Australia off-spinner Nathan Lyon and scratched the pitch vigorously with his spikes.

India have prepared meticulously for Lyon prior to the Test series, but the Australian spinner has still been a thorn for the visitors, claiming 16 wickets at 19.43.

Cheteshwar Pujara in a cheerful mood during a training session yesterday in Melbourne. Pic/AFP
Cheteshwar Pujara in a cheerful mood during a training session yesterday in Melbourne. Pic/AFP

Pujara shows the way
The only batsman that has been able to handle Lyon with relative ease has been Cheteshwar Pujara. The India No. 3 has his unique method by leaving the crease only after Lyon has released the ball and then either pushing the ball down the ground or playing it away.

Pujara's long strides and his precise timing to leave the crease has allowed him to be successful, but other Indian batsmen need to conjure up a plan to rotate the strike against Lyon and in the process limit his ability to build constant pressure from one end.

One shot Indian batsmen, barring Pujara, have been reluctant to attempt is the sweep. At the MCG nets yesterday, Hanuma Vihari and Rohit Sharma spent some time practising the sweep shot. One aspect that will assist the Indian batsmen in their quest to overcome Lyon's mastery is the surface on offer for the third Test.

Pitch perfect
The MCG pitch is not expected to have the same amount of pace and bounce as Perth. This means the likes of Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and others should be able to go deep in their crease and play Lyon off the back foot.

One of the prime reasons Lyon succeeded in Perth was the length the off-spinner bowled as well as the pace of the surface that prevented the Indian batsmen from going deep into the crease to play off the back foot.

In Adelaide, on a slower pitch, the Indian batsmen found a method to rotate the strike as Lyon could only manage nine maidens in his 70 overs. In Perth, 20 per cent of Lyon's overs were maidens. At the post-match press conference Kohli had said: "It was the pace of the pitch that made Lyon successful." Looking ahead to Melbourne, India need to find a solution to ensure Lyon doesn't tie up one end. It might be time to bring out a few sweeps or even late cuts to put the pressure back on the ace-spinner. Kohli even hinted that batsmen will need to revise their plans for Lyon.

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