On his third Test tour here, Australia off-spinner Nathan establishes himself as the second most successful overseas spinner of all time with 53 wickets
Australia’s Nathan Lyon appeals on Day Two of the third Test against India at the Holkar Stadium in Indore on Thursday. Pic/Getty Images
There is an old-world allure to the way Nathan Lyon goes about his business. No big talk, no chest-beating about new variations, no boast of under-cutters and parallel-seam deliveries. The 35-year-old is a huge investor in his stock ball, the off-break, and it’s an investment that’s paid off handsomely over the last decade and more.
On his third Test tour of India, Lyon has established himself as the second most successful overseas spinner of all time on Indian soil, his 11-wicket haul in the third Test taking his tally of sticks in this country to 53 in 10 Tests. Only England left-arm spinner Derek Underwood, with 54 wickets, is ahead of Lyon, and it’s almost a given that by the end of the final Test in Ahmedabad next week, Lyon would have moved into a league of his own.
Murali, Warne found it tough
Even such greats as Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne have found the going tough in India, securing their wickets at a high price. Murali’s 40 wickets in 11 Tests came at an average of 45.45 and at a strike-rate of 86.2 balls per wicket; Warne’s corresponding numbers for 34 wickets in nine matches are 43.11 and 81.0 respectively. Lyon, meanwhile, averages an impressive 26.05 and takes only 47.3 balls (that’s less than eight overs) per wicket, indicating just how much at ease he is in conditions that have primarily tended to assist spinners, but where even the best from all corners have run into serious issues.
Impressive 11-99 at Indore
Player of the Match at the Holkar Stadium for match figures of 11 for 99 (including eight for 64 in the second innings), Lyon’s top three bowling performances have come in India. He is metronomic in his operation, always asking questions with his remarkable consistency and discipline.
Lyon has five five-fors in 18 innings on Indian turf and Rohit Sharma hailed him as the best overseas tweaker to have toured this country. “He should be at the top, in my opinion,” the Indian captain said after the nine-wicket loss on Friday.
“Obviously, I’ve not played guys like Murali and Shane Warne, but to me, in the current crop, [he’s] probably the No. 1 bowler from overseas to play in India. He’s got so much consistency in his line and length, doesn’t give you too much. This is his third tour to India. The first two tours, I was not part of the team, but he got wickets then too. He’s a very experienced bowler, he’s not afraid of getting hit, that’s something I’ve noticed. That gives him a lot of confidence, and that gives the captain a lot of confidence too that I’ve got a guy who I know is going to pitch it there and let the pitch do the rest for him.”