Lyon stands in India's way
Nathan Lyon delivered a fine display of spin bowling on day two in Delhi to leave the final Test between India and Australia intriguingly poised.
The hosts looked to be firmly in control when - on the back of half-centuries from Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara - they reached 108 without loss in reply to Australia’s modest first-innings total of 262.
However, the impressive Lyon then picked up five wickets and additional breakthroughs from Peter Siddle, James Pattinson and Glenn Maxwell ensured India reached stumps on 266 for eight, holding a slender lead of four.
With runs proving tricky to come by on a Feroz Shah Kotla surface offering sharp turn, batting last promises to be a stiff challenge - a factor that will surely lift Australia as they seek to avoid a series whitewash.
Siddle, 47 not out overnight, was able to bring up a maiden Test half-century this morning before becoming a fifth victim for India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.
Australia’s innings then came to an end when Pragyan Ojha had Pattinson caught off a leading edge for 30 to claim his 100th Test scalp, in only his 22nd appearance.
Vijay and Pujara, promoted to open in the absence of Shikhar Dhawan, were able to score freely either side of lunch, but Lyon then took centre stage.
The 25-year-old New South Welshman, harshly dropped after the first Test of this series, bowled Pujara for 52 with one that turned less than the batsman expected and then trapped Virat Kohli plumb lbw from round the wicket in his next over.
India were wobbling when a lively bouncer from Siddle caught the glove of Vijay and looped up to provide wicketkeeper Matthew Wade with a simple catch.
Their position could have been worse had Sachin Tendulkar not survived several scares. One particular appeal for leg-before from Lyon appeared particularly worthwhile, but umpire Richard Kettleborough remained unmoved.
Not to be denied further success, Lyon had debutant Ajinkya Rahane caught at leg slip for seven and ended Tendulkar’s scratchy innings on 32 with an lbw shout that proved impossible to turn down.
With Australia showing plenty of aggression in the field, Mahendra Singh Dhoni pulled Pattinson straight to stand-in skipper Shane Watson at a square midwicket with India still 52 in arrears.
Ravindra Jadeja progressed confidently to 43, his highest Test score, but was subsequently lbw to Maxwell’s second ball before Lyon fittingly had the final say, pinning Ashwin in front with what proved the final delivery of an absorbing day.
In the aftermath of the encounter, Ishant Sharma was fined 15% of his match fee for breaching the ICC Code of Conduct having repeatedly gestured towards the pavilion following the dismissal of Wade.