Cricket Australia Items/news/2013/3/23/australia-finish-day-2-on-top

Fourth Test evenly poised

UPDATED 31 July, 2014 9:39AM AEST | 27

Spinner Nathan Lyon took five wickets but India claimed a slight lead against Australia in a thrilling day of Test cricket in Delhi.

Lyon produced his best performance for his country on arguably the toughest stage to bowl spin, finishing with terrific figures of 5-94 from 22.1 overs on Saturday.

He bowled with good drift and bounce and claimed the key wickets of Cheteshwar Pujara (52), Sachin Tendulkar (32) and Virat Kohli (one).

That allowed the Aussies to restrict India to 8-266 at stumps on day two of the fourth and final Test, although that did put them in front after the tourists were bowled out for 262 in the morning session.

Deputy Australia captain Shane Watson threw the new ball to left-armer Mitchell Johnson (0-44 off 17 overs) and James Pattinson (1-54 off 14) but neither could make early inroads into India's much-vaunted batting order.

Murali Vijay (57) was looking his usual composed self while Pujara (52) was enjoying his promotion to the top order in the absence of the injured Shikhar Dhawan.

The pair added 31 runs in the first four overs and they moved to 0-56 after 13 as they reached lunch largely without incident.

Another long day in the field looked on the cards for Australian but Lyon fired a warning shot when he had a strong lbw appeal turned down that almost dismissed Vijay for 37 at 0-93.

Just two overs later and Lyon did have a wicket, producing a ball that hit the top of off-stump to send Pujara packing.

And another two overs later, Lyon had his second when Kohli played across the line and was trapped plumb lbw.

The celebrations were joyous and the Aussies firmly believed they were back in the game, so they were incredulous when an lbw shout on Tendulkar – again off Lyon – was surprisingly turned down.

Lyon had further unsuccessful lbw shouts against Tendulkar and Vijay and was bowling superbly but India reached tea at 2-130, still in firm control.

The first two balls of the final session saw Tendulkar hit fours off Peter Siddle (1-38 off 12) but the Victorian paceman responded with the all-important breakthrough of Vijay as he gloved a sharp-rising delivery to wicket-keeper Matthew Wade.

Siddle could have had debutant Ajinkya Rahane (seven) out first ball when he looked to be hit adjacent but again an Australian lbw appeal was turned down. 

Rahane was then hit on the head by a Siddle bouncer as the quick looked to make the most out of an at times helpful surface.

Rahane did not last long, picking out leg slip Steve Smith off Lyon, and although Smith dropped India captain MS Dhoni (24) on seven a couple of overs later from Lyon's bowling, the spinner finally dismissed Tendulkar lbw just three balls afterwards.

Dhoni then fell to Pattinson and although Ravindra Jadeja (43) scored quickly, he was trapped lbw by Glenn Maxwell (1-8 off three), who had been battling gastro during the day.

And Lyon finished a good day for Australia when he removed Ravichandran Ashwin (12) lbw in the very last over of the day.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar (10 not out) will resume day three at the crease with India just four runs ahead in an exciting match.

Earlier, the Aussies resumed at 8-231 and although Siddle – who was on 47 to start the day – reached his fifty, he was soon dismissed.

Ashwin bowled him for 51 before James Pattinson (30) became the first and only victim of Pragyan Ojha (1-75 off 26.1).

That saw the tourists dismissed for a score that looked sub-par given the start made by the Indian openers, but thanks to Lyon's brilliance, Watson's men are well and truly alive in this contest.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia

First Posted 23 March, 2013 10:13PM AEST

Commercial Partners