India v Australia, 4th Test, Dharamsala, 2nd day March 26, 2017

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

Play 03:09
Chappell: India lacked proactivity against spin

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.

Nathan Lyon claimed four wickets after tea © Associated Press

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • incogn3678149 on April 4, 2017, 21:50 GMT

    @ AKSINGH1969 ON MARCH 26, 2017, 12:56 GMT - Understand what you saying. But why not extend Karun the same opportunity that Rohit received or even worse, what Ishant Sharma received?! I think Karun has the class but just needs to settle. I know Karun has played only one decent innings thus far but how many other Indian batsmen have scored a triple-century in the history of Test cricket. Not saying that Karun is as good as those other great batsmen but just putting into perspective his achievement and capability - Too early to discard him. I remember VVS too some time to settle in Tests and what a player he turned out to be!! Karun, in that one innings, showed his capabilities and if there was more time in that Test to bat then Karun may well have scored 400 - Batting looked so easy for him at that stage!

  • krisjo4061355 on March 27, 2017, 18:23 GMT

    @CHEESEVANTONDER : Even if India loses this series it'd only be 1-2, better than your 0-3 drubbing here in India.

  • krisjo4061355 on March 27, 2017, 18:21 GMT

    @CHEESEVANTONDER ON MARCH 26, 2017, 14:25 GMT "A 4-0 whitewash against the worlds 'best bowlers' at home must seem like a dream to some right now. Well played Aussies, super effort."

    The truth of the fact is AUS played better than SAF in India. Simple as that. So, well played AUS. How does it matter whether it is 4-0 or 2-1 ?

  • krisjo4061355 on March 27, 2017, 18:19 GMT

    @ROJAYAO ON MARCH 26, 2017, 11:40 GMT "Furious with Renshaw. No runs, two dropped catches. He's really tapering off after a good start to the series, he better make it up in the second dig. India been a bit lucky, Rahul and Rahane could've or should've been out early in their innings, "

    How about Warner dropped first ball of the Test? How about Smith dropped and yet got a 100 in the 1st innings? That must be tasting good eh !!!

  • krisjo4061355 on March 27, 2017, 18:15 GMT

    @CRICINFOUSER ON MARCH 26, 2017, 14:59 GMT "Lead of 50-70? Lol. First score 20 runs tomorrow morning . Saha is lucky to be in there"

    20 runs?? India scored 84 runs. Also took 3 Aussie wickets before the 32 run lead was wiped out !!!

  • Wayne on March 27, 2017, 8:44 GMT

    4 down but we'll keep fighting! That's what Australians do. So much ticker and so much pride. For a young side that was supposed to get belted 4-0 in the harshest conditions for a cricketer on earth, these guys are going to fight it out and can never be written off. This trip will build character and sense of team for the bigger prize waiting in November.

  • dinesh5331792 on March 27, 2017, 7:39 GMT

    Now there is real test for aussies ... they got to prove themselves that they arent depended on smith !!! indians have proved themselves in the series ....

  • Ajay on March 27, 2017, 7:08 GMT

    Damn. I was in the process of hiring a private jet in US to fly down to Dharmasala to give Karun Nair a nice kick in the rear end. While I was in the process of booking the jet Warner nicks another one and is taken. Cancelled my reservation and Karun Nair is saved (this time). Lol.

  • dinesh5331792 on March 27, 2017, 6:48 GMT

    kids ashwins poorest performance ... he has got 18 wickets and there is a jadeja or a umesh get wickets always !!!! one more thing ... ha has got 74= wickets in this season in 13 matches and remove the last 6 matches due his poor run ... still he is the best coming to lyon ... he is lucky to have 10 right handers in ind batting lineup ... without help of the pitch ... lyon would have been a big zero !!! i would rate pat cummins and jadeja over any other bowler in this series !!!

  • iyersv8545392 on March 27, 2017, 6:46 GMT

    @Finn Forget imagination, I saw SA recently do worse than this to Aus. In Aus. Aus have used verbal barb here to advantage. So shouldn't really cry foul about pitches since such tactics don't depend on pitches. This is a good test and equally balanced. Enjoy the game mate.

  • No featured comments at the moment.