You can't keep a GOAT down, as Nathan Lyon showed by threatening to spin NSW to victory in their JLT Sheffield Shield clash with Tasmania that ended in a draw.
Lyon, playing his first game of the Australian summer after returning home from the UAE, starred at the SCG on Thursday as the Blues threatened to snatch their first win of the season.
Australia's most prolific Test offspinner finished with figures of 4-88, having grabbed 4-30 and bamboozled Test skipper Tim Paine and George Bailey while igniting a late collapse.
"His game is at a level now where it doesn't matter what surface he bowls on, he's a challenge," Bailey said.
"We knew how we played him was going to be one of the factors in whether we chased the runs down."
Tasmania, set a target of 350 after sporting declarations from George Bailey and Peter Nevill, recovered from losing 5-51 to finish 7-264.
Beau Webster and Jackson Bird batted out 11.1 overs to ensure the points were split, surviving a tense finish in which Nevill stationed every fielder around the bat while Lyon and Steve O'Keefe were bowling.
NSW's push for victory met stubborn resistance in Alex Doolan, who extended his bright start to the season with a knock of 90, and Webster, who finished 80 not out.
The hosts claimed a single wicket in each of the first two sessions before Lyon, bowling on a slow pitch that offered little assistance, busted the game open with a trademark diving caught-and-bowled effort to dismiss Jake Doran.
Lyon, tuning up for Australia's four-Test series against India that begins on December 6, then removed Bailey and Paine with pinpoint deliveries that kissed the top of off stump before Tom Rogers was out edging.
"It's always good to get one over the (Test) captain isn't it? Nah, I was a bit lucky it went through his legs," Lyon said, having toiled for 40 overs in the match before snagging his first wicket.
"The pitch provided a decent challenge ... (there was) nothing to work with.
"But obviously it was under covers for a whole day ... we can't control the weather.
"Disappointed about the result ... but it was absolutely brilliant for Shield cricket to have the double declaration. All credit goes to George for teeing that up with Nev."
The contest gave Paine and Lyon, dropped from Australia's ODI squad and asked to focus on his red-ball bowling by national selectors, a chance to readjust to local conditions as they start tuning up for a four-Test series against India that begins on December 6.
Paine, who helped Australia salvage a draw in Dubai last month, didn't bat in Tasmania's first innings then lasted eight deliveries in their second dig.
He was in the field for 148.4 overs, most of them spent watching teenagers Jack Edwards and Jason Sangha compile their maiden Shield tons.
Rain ruined day three of the contest, with only 4.3 overs of play possible, but Bailey and Nevill were desperate to avoid a dull draw.
Tasmania declared overnight at 4-115, handing the Blues a first-innings lead of 327 runs.
Nevill returned the favour, stopping NSW's second innings at 1-22 after four overs.