Lyon thrives as ploy to 'bowl ugly' brings joy

Australia's record-breaking off-spinner says he put the ego aside and learned from India spin whiz Ravi Ashwin to deliver on the subcontinent

Nathan Lyon believes the key to solving his subcontinental riddle is a willingness to "bowl ugly" as the off-spinner became the first Australian in 16 years to claim three five-wicket hauls in as many as Tests.

In searing conditions he described as the toughest he's ever played in, Lyon led a rare three-headed spin-attack on the opening day of the second Test against Bangladesh in Chittagong to finish with 5-77 from 28 overs.

The figures, which could yet be boosted on Tuesday with Bangladesh still only 6 wickets down for 253, came after Lyon raised the ball aloft in his two previous Tests in Dhaka (6-82 in the first Test against the Tigers last week) and Dharamsala (5-92 against India in the fourth Test in March).

'GOAT' returns second-best Test figures

The last Australia bowler to snare three five-fers in as many Tests was Glenn McGrath in 2001, who took four consecutive hauls during the 2001 Ashes. No spinner from Australia has achieved the feat since Shane Warne did it in 1994 with bags against Pakistan in the final Test in Lahore and then back-to-back five-wicket hauls in the ensuing home Ashes series.

After also passing Jason Gillespie on Australia’s all-time leading Test wicket-taking list to now put him in seventh spot, Lyon says previous trips to Asia and a close observation of the methods of India spin wizard Ravi Ashwin have helped him figure out how to thrive on the subcontinent.

"I think it's a lot to do with confidence," the 29-year-old said. "This is probably my sixth tour to the subcontinent.

"Leading an attack where I've played the most games, lead the wicket column with the bowling group, I've put enough pressure on myself to go out there and perform well.

"I've watched a lot of footage of Ashwin, who in my book is probably the No.1 spinner in the world.

"What works for me in Australia probably doesn't really work here in the subcontinent. In saying that, it's also my strength as well, so I can't go too far from that.

"I have to put my ego away and in my terms, bowl ugly.

"That might be (bowling) round arm, trying to undercut the ball a little bit more but using my stock ball as a variation.

"I think I've learnt a lot in the subcontinent and I'm embracing the challenge.

"You've got to want it, you want to go out there and do well for your mates walking out there, but the whole Australian public at home."

Lyon preys on India bats with four after tea

It was only 12 months ago that Darren Lehmann singled out Lyon for below-par returns on the subcontinent in the midst of Austraila's 0-3 series whitewash in Sri Lanka.

As the No.1 ranked Test team veered violently off course on the way to a 0-3 series sweep on the Island-nation, Australia's coach gave his No.1 spinner a public dressing down.

"Nathan Lyon’s experience has been very good for us over a period of time, but his record in the subcontinent is not great," Lehmann said in August, midway through the second Test in Galle.

"So he’s got to improve, there’s no doubt about that."

After the tour, Lyon's 44 wickets in Asia had cost him 42.57 apiece, well short of the kind of the form that has seen him miss just one Test at home since his debut in 2011.

His international career hit rock bottom the following summer when Australia succumbed to its fifth Test defeat in a row and he went 660 balls in first-class cricket without taking a wicket.

Lyon bags three to give Australia the edge

But after narrowly clinging on to his mantle as Australia's first-picked spinner, Lyon led the way for Australia on their four-Test tour of India in February-March, finishing with 19 scalps for the series and high praise for the manner in which he'd reinvented his method abroad.

Across the six Tests he's played in India and Bangladesh this year (including the ongoing one), Lyon has 33 wickets at the vastly improved figure of 21.75, while no bowler has taken more than his four five-wicket hauls in 2017.

In typical Lyon style, he said his effort on day one in steamy Chittagong was really no big deal.

"I think I bowled four straight ones early and all hit the pads," he said, having trapped each of Bangladesh's top-four batsmen lbw.

Toughest day of Test cricket I've had: Lyon

"That’s up there with the hardest Test match cricket days I’ve ever had.

"This would be my 69th Test match and I don’t think I’ve been tested like that physically. The pitch was pretty good … there’s not much spin there at all.

"(The heat) is just one of those things. This is why we do pre-season. You want to test yourself in the hardest conditions and see how you react."

Australia in Bangladesh 2017

Australia squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Ashton Agar, Jackson Bird, Hilton Cartwright, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, Steve O'Keefe, Matthew Renshaw, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade.

Bangladesh squad: Mushfiqur Rahim (c), Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Imrul Kayes, Shakib Al Hasan, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Sabbir Rahman, Nasir Hossain, Liton Das, Taskin Ahmed, Shafiul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman, Taijul Islam, Mominul Haque.

27-31 August First Test, Dhaka, Bangladesh won by 20 runs

4-8 September Second Test, Chittagong