Lyon leads Australia's comeback on see-saw day
India 248 for 6 (Rahul 60, Pujara 57, Lyon 4-67) trail Australia 300 by 52 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Bounce giveth, and bounce taketh away. Nathan Lyon took his opportunity to use the extra vertical lift available in Dharamsala and work his way through India's middle order, but a pair of dropped catches from Matt Renshaw at either end of the day prevented Australia from getting full reward from their toil on the second day of the fourth Test.
The pitch offered more bounce to the touring bowlers than at any other time in the series, while Dharamsala's altitude helped the ball swing more or less all day. Lyon duly adjusted his approach to seek maximum overspin, and in a long spell after tea claimed four wickets to reduce India's chances of building a substantial lead.
It might have been even better for Australia, were it not for Renshaw at first slip failing to react in time to a KL Rahul edge while the ball was still new in the first hour, then making a mess of a more straightforward chance offered up by Wriddhiman Saha in Pat Cummins' first over with the second new ball. Cummins' anguished reaction underlined how hard he and Josh Hazlewood had toiled, in defence of a total that has left the game open to either side with three days remaining.
Rahul and Cheteshwar Pujara played India's most substantial innings', while the stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane offered an approach of polar opposites - attacking the pacemen and offering a dead bat to the spinners. Pujara had seemed capable of emulating his Ranchi effort, but fell prey to Lyon's bounce shortly after tea as Australia's No. 1 offspinner found lovely rhythm to pose questions to all comers.
Hazlewood came exceptionally close to a wicket with his second ball of the day, when M Vijay's checked drive fell fractionally short of David Warner at mid-off. It was not a moment representative of the rest of the morning, as the ball flew through to Matthew Wade with more venom that at any other time over these four Tests.
Amid the occasional verbal barb from bowler to batsman, Vijay edged Hazlewood just short of Wade, before touching another delivery behind that carried rather more comfortably to present Australia with their first wicket. Next over, Renshaw was unable to get more than fingertips to a flying edge from Rahul.
There were more good deliveries to follow and scoring was slow, but Pujara and Rahul were happy to reach the break without further loss. They accelerated notably on resumption, threatening momentarily to take control of the game.
Cummins was recalled to the attack to try to make something happen, and he obliged by getting at Rahul with a combination of short balls and verbal rejoinders. Eventually, Rahul was coaxed into trying a hook shot at a bouncer pitched well outside off stump, and the resulting toe-end miscue lobbed gently to an exultant David Warner.
Runs became harder to come by after an initial burst from Rahane, as Lyon and Steve O'Keefe concentrated on economy. But only one chance of any sort was generated - an lbw appeal by Lyon against Rahane that was turned down by the umpire Ian Gould and not reviewed. Ball-tracking showed the delivery would have gone on to strike the top of leg stump but remained umpire's call.
Australia did not have long to wait in the evening session, however, as Lyon's bite drew an inside edge onto pad from Pujara that was well held by Peter Handscomb diving forward from short leg. Karun Nair, never comfortable at the crease this series, fell in similar fashion albeit on the back foot rather than the front.
Lyon's attack on Rahane was fascinating, as he varied quicker, straighter deliveries threatening the outside edge with loopier stuff devised to spin and catch the inside edge. Ultimately, it was one of the former offerings that found the edge and was exceptionally taken by Smith at slip, just as Rahane and R Ashwin had been threatening to build a partnership of value.
Ashwin had played his best innings of the series, but then failed to get forward far enough to avoid being given lbw by Gould. A review showed the ball had struck Ashwin marginally in line with the stumps and was going on to strike middle. Lyon's first ball to Jadeja then turned and kicked, striking Wade in the shoulder.
A pair of meaty blows from Jadeja in the thin Himalayan air were enough for Smith to call upon Cummins to take the second new ball, and an exploratory first five deliveries led to a perfectly-pitched sixth that Saha edged. It sailed at comfortable catching height to Renshaw, but bounced out of his hands. A pensive Australian viewing area were left to hope that this would not be a pivotal moment of the match and the series.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig